Mediation is a dispute resolution process whereby the parties and their attorneys work with a neutral third-party mediator in an attempt to resolve the dispute and avoid continued litigation. All disputed issues can be addressed in mediation. If an agreement is reached, the agreement is memorialized in a written Mediated Settlement Agreement. The Mediated Settlement Agreement is binding and irrevocable. If an agreement is reached, the attorneys draft a court order to reflect the terms outlined in the Mediated Settlement Agreement.
Most courts require mediation before a contested, evidentiary hearing. However, even if the court does not require mediation, the attorneys or parties often elect to attend mediation as a cost-saving effort to avoid continued litigation.
Family law mediations are usually conducted using a “caucus style” approach. This means one party and his/her attorney are in one conference room, and the opposing party and opposing attorney are in a different room. The mediator relays settlement negotiations between the rooms. The purpose of this method is to allow the attorney to give the client candid legal advice without the opposing side listening. For this reason, the mediator has confidentiality with both parties.
Mediations are typically scheduled in half-day or full-day sessions. Mediations usually occur at the mediator’s office, but occasionally the mediator travels to one of the party’s attorney’s office.
Reitzer, Loudin & Montgomery, P.C.’s attorneys have extensive experience in the capacity of being the actual mediator and in representing parties in mediation.