Family Mediation – A Less Afflictive Alternative to Litigation

Family mediation is a less adversarial alternative to litigation that can reduce the emotional strain on everyone involved. The process allows the parties to work out solutions that are tailored to their specific needs and to address all issues that may be relevant. The negotiations are typically less expensive than litigation and can be completed more rapidly. During the mediation sessions, the mediator will aid the parties in their discussions by identifying issues and exploring possible resolutions. The process may take place in one session or in several. Sessions can be conducted in person or online, and parties can meet with the mediator together or separately.

During mediation, participants focus on the present and future rather than dwell on past wrongs or hurt feelings. This approach reduces the conflict, promotes communication and often helps families heal while preserving important relationships. The resulting agreements can be more effective than a judge’s order and are usually more enforceable, as participants are less likely to violate an agreement they helped craft themselves.

It is important for the parents to discuss their custody wishes with their lawyers prior to mediation and to enter the process with an open mind. While it is normal for emotions to run high at times during the mediation, the mediator will be able to help keep the discussion focused on the children’s best interests. Mediated agreements are not a substitute for a custody order signed by the judge and can be amended as the children’s needs change over time.

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