Family Law Mediation Explained

family law mediation

The process by which families can negotiate future arrangements for children with the help of a neutral and legal third party is known as family law mediation. The mediator does not tell the involved what to do but can help them reach their agreements amicably while improving effective communication.

Family law mediation is more advisable for separated families to resolve their disputes instead of using the family law courts. This is due to the general presumption that family issues regarding children are better resolved out of court. 

Child specialists and experts believe that the entire court proceedings and eventual ruling might leave a long-lasting negative imprint on the mind of involved children

Types of Family Law Mediation 

Family law mediation, like most other forms of arbitration, has three significant approaches, and they are;

  • Evaluative Mediation: This is the direct/no-nonsense style. During family law mediation, mediators work quickly and efficiently to reach a point and work out a feasible solution. They rely on experience to help them consider options and make recommendations. They are instrumental when time is of the essence, and the problem is relatively concrete.
  • Transformative Mediation: An arbitrator who employs this method creates time and space for all sides to hear and understand one another. They take time to create more space for emotions to be expressed through the process. It facilitates healing while a solution is being sought out because grievances are aired and trashed instead of being bottled up. This method is proper when conflicts are tied to more in-depth personal issues, including identities and relationships.
  • Facilitative Mediation: This method sits squarely in between the two earlier mentioned. This mediation style may be most familiar to people because it deals with the mediator adapting based on the parties’ dynamic needs. They study and understand the involved parties and expertly adapt to their unique needs. They may employ techniques from both evaluative and transformative approaches to get the job done. 

The entire process of family law mediation has five main stages. Usually, these five stages are strictly adhered to for maximum results, but sometimes, experimenting mediators tend to explore other options. These five stages are; 

  • Convening the Mediation: The defense or prosecution counsel calls on a mediator, depending on which side is more intent on keeping the case out of court. Also, a Judge can urge involved parties to employ the services of a mediator.
  • Opening session: This is where the mediator describes the process to prepare the parties for what to expect
  • Communication: At this stage, the parties can explain their positions and have private meetings with the mediator. A series of open-ended questions followed by active feedback allows the mediator to listen for clues about what is driving the parties.
  • Negotiation: At this point, the mediator, having listened to all involved parties, recommends possible solutions. 
  • Closure: if they reach a suitable conclusion, all parties go home happy. But if they don’t, the case most likely goes back to court for a ruling.

In family law mediation, the principal role of a mediator is to facilitate communication between the parties in conflict to help them reach a voluntary resolution to their dispute. All this must be timely, fair, and cost-effective, and will not leave a scar on the children’s minds.