What is family mediation?
Family mediation is a process where a neutral third-party mediator helps family members resolve conflicts and make decisions together. Mediation is a voluntary process and is often used in situations where families are struggling to make important decisions, such as custody arrangements, support payments, and property division. It is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and can be binding and final, or not.
How does family mediation differ from going to court?
Family mediation is typically less formal, less adversarial, and less expensive than court proceedings. It focuses on cooperation and finding a solution that works for all parties, rather than having a judge make a decision. Mediation also tends to be quicker than court processes and allows for more flexible and creative solutions.
Is the outcome of family mediation legally binding?
The agreements reached in family mediation can be made legally binding if both parties agree. Typically, the mediator will draft a summary of the agreement, which can then be converted into a ‘consent order’ by a lawyer and approved by a court, making it as legally binding as a court order.
Can I still go to court if mediation doesn’t work?
Yes, if mediation does not result in a resolution, you retain the right to take your dispute to court. Mediation does not exclude the possibility of legal proceedings; it’s often a step taken before resorting to litigation.
Do I need a lawyer during family mediation?
While it’s not mandatory to have a lawyer during the mediation process, it’s often beneficial. Lawyers can provide legal advice and help ensure that any agreement is fair and in your best interests. They can also assist in turning mediation agreements into legally binding documents.