After initiating a divorce or a child custody dispute, there will come a time that the court asks if the parties can come to an agreement on their own, would like to try mediation, or would have to go to a trial/hearing. If the parties cannot work out a settlement on their own, it is quite beneficial to try mediation.
Mediation is an alternative way to resolve disputes, rather than going in front of a judge for a trial/hearing on the matter. Mediation usually involves going to a neutral third party administrator (sometimes a lawyer, but not always). This third party will then listen to both parties and their attorneys if necessary, and try and work out a solution both parties agree to.
There are many benefits to going to mediation, over a hearing/trial in front of the court. First, mediation is usually cheaper than going to a hearing/trial in front of a judge. Yes, it does cost money to do mediation, however, this amount is split between the two parties. Additionally, a hearing is more expensive because the lawyer not only has to do the hearing (which costs money), but has to make vast preparations for the hearing (which costs more money).
Second, in mediation, clients are more involved and there is less need for attorneys fighting with each other (which also costs money). In mediation, a client can really tell their side of the story, felt their side is meaningfully listened to. A client may also work with the mediator to find middle ground with the opposing side. In a hearing, a client’s only words are when they testify – answering questions by both attorneys. That is usually not as satisfying to a client as they do not get to tell their story their way.
Third, mediation is usually more precise than a judge’s orders.
Fourth and finally, there is an increased likelihood of a client’s happiness from a mediation settlement, rather than a trial/hearing. After the feeling of being heard, and the ability to work at a middle ground solution, clients are typically happier than when a judge listens to arguments and then makes their own assessment of the situation, with no real input from the clients.
While mediation does not always work in every situation, it is usually best to, at the very least, contemplate the benefits of mediation. Getting really angry and wanting your day in court is not always the best option. Make sure to listen to your attorney’s advice on the matter and then make your own decision about what is best for you.