What is Domestic Relations (Family Law) Mediation?
If you’re facing divorce, you probably have a lot of questions about how the process works and how you and your spouse will solve disputes. In many divorce cases, the spouses and their attorneys will try to solve disputes regarding child custody, child support, property division, and alimony, but when the parties are unable to reach a resolution, the Court will commonly refer the dispute to a qualified domestic relations mediator – otherwise known as family law mediation.
Domestic relations mediators are specifically trained and designated lawyers who are qualified to assist the parties and their attorneys in solving disputes. Commonly, the attorneys of the two parties will pick the mediator together, but in some cases the Court will appoint the mediator for the case.
The mediation process is well suited to assist in resolving issues in domestic relations cases. In the mediation process, each attorney has an opportunity to make a presentation to the mediator. Most presentations will include a summary of the history of the marriage, a background of the parties, details regarding the assets of the parties, and that particular party’s proposals for settling the disputes. After each attorney presents his or her case, the mediator will conduct an informal mediation hearing, or meeting, in an effort to bring the parties together with their attorneys to resolve at least some of the issues. The mediation process presents a very real and viable opportunity to bring resolution to the divorce case at a significantly reduced economic and emotional expense to the parties.
If the parties are able to reach a settlement, each party will be asked to sign a settlement agreement which sets out all of the terms of the agreement. This settlement agreement will then be approved and adopted by the Court, and in some cases, the parties must officially approve the agreement in Court, in front of the Judge, after the agreement is read into the record.
If the parties are unable to reach a complete agreement through the use of mediation, the Court will conduct a trial to settle all remaining and unresolved issues.