When people mediate, they bring their conflict to a place where they try to settle their dispute. To assist with the process, an impartial third person, or “mediator” helps them reach an agreement. The mediator does not take sides or make decisions. Rather, he or she should be fair to all parties and help them find a solution.
More and more individuals are trying to resolve disputes through mediation. While this process can occur without the assistance of professionals, sometimes problems arise, and individuals need to seek counsel or advice. Often during divorce, individuals need to work out one or many problems with the other spouse. When they ask a mediator to help them solve a problem, they buy into a process that allows a trained third party to use facilitative skills to help them resolve their conflicts.
In certain situations, courts will require couples to mediate. This is called court ordered mediation. A judge may order couples to mediate certain issues that are difficult to resolve. For resolving parenting time conflicts, a judge has the discretion to assign an expediter to help couples set up a visitation schedule for their children.
When couples seek mediation voluntarily or by court order, they are trying to resolve some routine problems that come up in divorce. Problems that people bring to mediation may include visitation, child support, parenting responsibilities, spousal maintenance (alimony), property division, debt division, and/or division of financial assets. The opportunity to mediate allows parties to take the time to address all their concerns and, with the mediator’s help, to reach a workable compromise.
People often prefer to mediate rather than go to trial. Individuals may mediate before separation, and before, during and after the divorce process. In fact, a final divorce decree can state that for future conflicts, parties agree to first seek mediation to resolve problems that come up after their divorce is final.
Mediation may not be a good choice if:
- A person or his/her children have been verbally, physically, emotionally or sexually abused by the other person;
- One person fears the other person or doesn’t trust the other party to be fair or honest ;
- One person is not ready emotionally to mediate;
- The mediator is not treating either party fairly;
- One person has difficulty making decisions; or
- There is a power imbalance the mediator cannot neutralize.