One question we receive regularly from clients is whether mediation will be necessary or required in their legal matter. While mediation can be an extremely helpful tool while negotiating settlement in a legal dispute, understanding your rights and what is required of you as a party is extremely important.
While requirements and outcomes will differ for each case, there are general practices that govern family law matters and the courses they take in terms of negotiation via mediation.
- Many judges like and will push for parties to engage in mediation as an effort to resolve matters expeditiously and to clear up their calendar and backlog of cases.
- Judges will often recommend and highly encourage the parties, if they can afford it, to attend private mediation. It is not usually required or ordered by the Court if the cost of retaining and using a private mediator will be prohibitive.
- Courts do offer their own Alternative Dispute Resolution/Mediation staffed usually with volunteer attorneys as the mediators, which may be ordered by the judge in some matters particularly if private mediation is cost-prohibitive or the parties are appearing pro per (meaning without lawyers).
- If one party requests that the case be sent to Conciliation Court for possible reconciliation of the marriage, the Court will order both parties to attend one session of court-sponsored mediation through Conciliation Services.
- Even when a judge does order mediation for a case, parties are never required to settle during mediation. You should keep an open mind during negotiations and be willing to listen and compromise, but the golden rule to remember is “don’t agree to something that you don’t agree to”. If you come to and make agreements at a mediation, you will be bound to those agreements and terms just like any other contract or obligation.
Mediation as a means to resolving legal disputes can be an effective alternative solution to trial, but it is crucial to understand the process and how it works to gain insight and control on how to utilize it in your particular case.
To learn more about how mediation may affect your legal matter, contact the attorneys at OWENS & PERKINS by clicking here or by calling our office at 480.630.2464 to schedule your FREE 30-minute consultation. We remain fully operational while practicing appropriate social distancing and cleaning regimes.