QUESTIONS ABOUT MEDIATION
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where a mediator, an impartial third party, assists you in making mutually agreeable decisions about your child(ren). An important part of the mediator's role is to help you keep your communication respectful with each other and to help you stay focused on finding workable solutions that are in the best interests of your child(ren).
Does the mediator provide legal advice or counseling?
No. Even if the mediator is an attorney or a licensed mental health
professional, the mediator is not acting as an attorney or as a counselor. The mediator will not give legal advice or provide counseling to either parent. The mediator does not represent either parent. Both parents are advised to obtain independent legal counsel.
Do I have to pay for mediation?
Yes. The mediator will charge a reasonable fee for his/her services.
What issues can be discussed in mediation?
Almost any issue relating to your child(ren) can be discussed.
- Parenting time
- Health insurance
- Child support
- Child(ren)'s safety
- Conflict management
- Family communication
- Establishing paternity
- Other issues
When does mediation end?
It ends upon agreement by the parties and the mediator. The mediator may end the mediation at any time if the mediator believes that continuing would be unproductive or harmful to one or both of the parents or the child(ren).
If a parent has been ordered to mediate by a court, that parent is obligated to attend mediation sessions as ordered by the court.
What if we reach an agreement?
Any understanding reached by you as a result of mediation will not be binding upon you until it is reduced to writing, signed by both parents reviewed your attorneys, if any, and approved by the court.
The mediator will write your agreements and provide copies to you and to your attorney(s).
If we don't reach agreement, what will the court be told?
If mediation is court ordered, the court will be told only that no agreement was reached or if a parent fails to attend a court ordered mediation. If the mediation was not court ordered, the court will not be told anything. Missouri law provides that the mediation process is confidential and nothing said in setting up or conducting the mediation may be repeated in court.
Why Does Mediation Work in Family Law Cases?
While cooperating Couples may choose mediation from the outset, even families with high conflict divorces can benefit from family, custody or divorce mediation. Because litigation encourages acrimony, and conflict, it's actually the high conflict divorces and custody cases that can benefit most from mediation.
Preparing for divorce can be both a physically and emotionally draining process. To help ease the burden, below is a compilation of tools and resources that will help you begin this difficult journey.
Divorce Mediation works because:
- You determine the schedule and the issues. Because you set the schedule, divorce mediation is much faster than family litigation - you don't have to rely on the court's schedule
- You have the flexibility of taking time to consider how a decision reached in mediation will affect your future. You can agree to "try out" agreements to see how they work and make changes as you learn more about how these agreements work in practice. You make the decisions you'll be living with-not a judge.
- Because you participate in each decision, the outcome is tailored to your family. When you litigate and have a judge make decisions for you, the outcome can be unpredictable, as well as impractical for your family.
- Divorce Mediation is healthier for you and your family, since part of mediation is learning to communicate better, which is especially important when children are involved. Agreements made in mediation have a higher degree of compliance and success than those negotiated in the courthouse, because you control the outcome.
- Divorce Mediation is confidential and private. You can discuss the issues that are important to you in the privacy of the mediator's office, rather than a crowded courthouse hallway. A mediator's files are confidential.
- You can always choose to litigate if mediation is unsuccessful. It's much more difficult to choose to mediate (but not impossible) after litigation has fueled the fire of conflict and made it more difficult for you to communicate and trust each other.
- You can choose your mediator, but you cannot choose your judge. Because you can choose your mediator, you can decide what kind of mediator will work best for you.
- It's the mediator's job to make sure that everyone gets a chance to express all of his or her concerns. If your spouse has been overbearing in the marriage, or you've been too shy to express yourself, the mediator will help balance the power between the two of you. In court, it's too often a matter of whose lawyer is the squeakiest wheel.
For all these reasons, mediation is less stressful for you, your children, and your family.
Our St. Joseph law office is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. We also make ourselves available to clients on weekends and evenings by appointment as well.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced St. Joseph criminal defense and family law attorney, please contact us at 816-364-3743.