Mediation is one of the attractive and shrewd options of solving your legal and non-legal issues, ranging from divorce, establishing paternity rights of non-married parents, family and elder care issues, as well as any civil, commercial or employment disputes. Mediation allows the parties involved to retain control over their issues and come to a fair and mutually acceptable resolution on their own terms. Mediation agreements that are presented and entered by the courts are then considered legally binding. Mediation does not provide you with legal advice, it provides you with a peaceful, safe and relaxed environment where a neutral third party helps you work through your issues, find common ground and reach a fair reciprocal agreement.
The principal reasons to consider mediation are; it is less expensive, less adversarial, less formal, voluntary, confidential, typically quicker than pursuing court actions, often decreases future litigation and most importantly allows more control, creativity and flexibility to get to an acceptable outcome without any pressure or obligation to settle. If you don’t come to an agreement, mediation has no effect on your ability to take your matter through the court system.
In regard to divorce, mediation is not only more cost effective, but more importantly it allows the parties involved to make the best decisions for themselves and their families without the need to hire attorneys. Hiring an attorney in some cases is necessary, however it typically can add significant costs, it can considerably lengthen the process and it can be less private. Hiring an attorney is not legally required to go through the mediation process, however the decision to hire an attorney before, during or after going through mediation is up to the sole discretion of each party involved.
Mediation is designed to allow for you to resolve any and all issues associated with getting divorced or establishing paternity rights for non-married parents including; the development of a comprehensive co-parenting plan, child custody and visitation, financial support for the children, division of marital property and debts, spousal support as well as a host of other personal, financial and non-financial matters. The more detailed the mediation, the best chance for less friction, tension and misunderstandings going forward as co-parents, which is an enormous benefit for your children. Additionally, the more detailed and comprehensive plan also creates the best environment for everyone to clearly understand and fulfill their obligations and responsibilities going forward.
Mediation is not for everyone, as both parties must agree to the mediation process, be an honest, forthright, openminded and willing participant, with the sincere desire to find the best solutions for both parties. Typically, the cost of mediation is split between the parties involved, but there are no rules that prohibit one party from paying for the cost of the mediation. Mediation costs are based on time, so they can vary depending on the complexity of the situation. Standard divorces normally have additional costs, such as court filing fees and some legal fees associated with the drafting of the additional divorce documents to be filed with the mediation documents, which will vary depending on the scope of those legal services.
So, how do you get started? Agree with the other party involved that you want to use mediation to attempt to settle your dispute. Contact a mediation firm and take advantage of their free consultation about how the process works and what you can expect from a mediation and set a date to mediate. I assure you, if you decide to use mediation, it will be one of the best decision you make.
Jeffrey Miller, LL.M.
Mediator for Mediation and Dispute Resolution, LLC
7136 S. Yale Ave. Ste. 300, Tulsa OK 74136