Mediation And Alternative Dispute Resolution
When the parties to a divorce, parentage case, or any other Court proceeding cannot agree on the appropriate Court orders, mediation is often an excellent way to resolve their disputes. The mediator acts as a neutral third party and works in a professional, unbiased way to help the parties come to an agreement. The mediator’s role is to help the parties settle all or some of their disagreements.
An agreed court order is often better than one which has been imposed by a Judge. Since it is an agreed order, both parties have had a say in it, so the parties are less likely to have disputes about the meaning or intent of the Court orders at a later date. This is beneficial for both parties and saves the parties much effort and expense in resolving future disputes.
If mediation successfully resolves all issues in a case, the parties then present the agreed orders to the Court for signature. At that point, the Court case can be closed, and the trial date can be stricken. Trial is expensive. A successful mediation can save the parties thousands of dollars in attorney fees and other legal expenses.
If one of the parties refuses to mediate when there is a Court rule or order requiring it, the other party can file a motion in Court to compel mediation. If a Court order requiring mediation is disobeyed, the Court can fine a party, or require them to pay the other party’s attorney fees. Even when there is no legal requirement to mediate, mediation is often instrumental in helping parties resolve their issues, and avoid the need for a costly litigated case.
The Shuttle Approach
Most mediations are conducted by using a “shuttle approach.” Attorneys are not required in order to mediate, but they are certainly helpful. Each party is in a separate room with their attorney if they have one. If the mediation is conducted by Zoom, the parties are in separate virtual “rooms.” With separate rooms, the parties have more privacy and less conflict.
The mediator alternates between rooms and discusses current settlement offers. Since the parties are in separate rooms, the mediator is free to discuss with either party any issues in their case. An experienced mediator has valuable insights into what evidence is important to a Judge, and sometimes can shed light on the possible outcomes of a trial. This is often very helpful in achieving agreement when one party is making unreasonable demands, or has unrealistic expectations.
What is said in mediation cannot be introduced as evidence in trial. Neither parent can use concessions or offers which are made during mediation against the other parent in Court. For that reason, the parties often feel free to make a concession or offer that they would be reluctant to make in other settings.
If the parties do come to an agreement, it is important that they document it in what is called a CR2A agreement. Sometimes the parties can actually attach an agreed order to the CR2A agreement to avoid disputes later about the details. The CR2A agreement is an enforceable contract requiring both parties to cooperate to have the agreed orders presented to and adopted by the Court.
Clement Law Center provides high quality mediations. Call us and schedule your mediation with us today.