Exploring the Use of Mediation in Family Law Disputes

No two marriages are the same; every marriage encounters its unique triumphs and failures. So it follows that no two divorces will be the same. When a particular marriage breaks down, the parties must take into consideration the real and personal property, debt, and children that have become a part of the marital equation. All things considered, divorce is rarely amicable from start to finish. However, in an effort to keep things amicable and agreeable, many couples resort to mediation before taking an already broken-down marriage through a trial.

Mediation is an alternative process that consists of a neutral third party listening to the disputing parties presenting their issues, talking them through, and potentially reaching a mutual agreement that is ultimately approved by the court. Sometimes all of the marital issues in dispute are resolved through mediation; other times only a portion of the issues are resolved. Courts encourage the use of mediation in family law disputes because it enables the parties to reach important decisions about what is best for their family themselves, rather than submitting to the discretion of attorneys and judges.

Pros of Mediation

The benefits of mediation are listed as follows, and make a lot of sense for most families in an attempt to resolve marital disputes:

  1. Mediation is a relatively inexpensive, efficient, and expedited way to work through property division, child custody and other divorce disputes as compared to court proceedings.
  2. Mediation is a simple, more flexible alternative to courtroom proceedings, because the complicated rules of evidence and court procedures do not apply.
  3. Mediation offers a comfortable, less intimidating setting to discuss the issues, which facilitates an amicable process in reaching a settlement.
  4. Mediation is a private proceeding, as mediators are bound by confidentiality; court cases are a matter of public record.
  5. In mediation, settlements/decisions are worked on, reached and agreed to by the parties themselves, rather than in a court proceeding, making for a more amicable divorce.

Cons of Mediation

It is also important to weigh the disadvantages of mediation before pursuing this alternative in your divorce proceeding.

  1. No guarantee that settlement will be reached; the parties may pay for and spend time in mediation, only to be forced to take their case the court anyway if no agreement can be reached.
  2. While the constitutional and procedural rules that apply to the courtroom can be burdensome, they also serve as important protections to the parties that are not offered in the mediation setting.
  3. Because there is no formal discovery process in mediation, the parties rely on the good faith and fairness of either party in disclosing all relevant information, such as comprehensive financial information, in reaching a fair settlement. Courtroom proceedings mandate the disclosure of all relevant evidence in order to reach a fair settlement.

By exhausting the mediation alternative, parties to any family law case find comfort in knowing that they really tried to work out their issues together, before having to submit their problems to a judge. Mediation is by no means limited to being used in a divorce; there are a variety of family law disputes where mediation can serve to create a mutual resolution reached by the parties.

Contact our Family Lawyers Today

Charleston families seeking to explore mediation in their family law case should contact the attorneys at Ayers Family Law, LLC today. We can discuss how mediation may benefit your unique familial situation, before taking your case to the courtroom.