Those in Northern Virginia who don’t have a lot of experience with legal matters but who are going through a divorce or separation may not fully understand how a family law mediation works.
Like other types of mediation, family law mediation is a way in which couples who are splitting try to resolve their child custody, support and any other legal issues they may have without having to go through the time, expense and stress of a full-blown trial or hearing.
People also find mediation beneficial because it encourages the couple to have at least a polite relationship after a split and also leaves both sides feeling satisfied with the outcome instead of having clear winners and losers.
For those who have children and are divorcing, a mediation where the idea is to negotiate may make the process easier for the kids to handle emotionally.
First and foremost, mediation is a confidential process. The confidentiality allows the couple and their attorneys to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their cases with more candor, as what they say and offer cannot be used against them later.
It is also optional. No one is forced to sign any agreement, and either side can end it at any time. If the mediation does not result in a settlement, the parties are free to go forward with a trial.
Practically speaking, the couple, and often their attorneys, will meet with a mediator on one or more occasion to discuss their case. The mediator is a neutral party, usually a family law attorney or someone with expertise in child custody matters. They often go through special training.
The mediator will try to help the couple reach an agreement by keeping the lines of communication open. Sometimes, the mediator may put each side in a different room and go back and forth between the rooms.