When you’re facing a divorce, you have many options. While it would be ideal if both parties could agree on all of the issues, this generally doesn’t happen. Often, a third-party can step in to help resolve even the most complex issues involving such things as child custody, child support, and the division of assets.
In Washington State, one of your options is to have a mediator help work through issues during a divorce. Even if your divorce has already been finalized, family law mediation is a useful tool to resolve difficult problems outside of a courtroom.
What is Mediation?
Mediation occurs when a neutral third party meets with a divorcing couple in an attempt to broker a settlement agreement. In short, a mediator will try to get both parties to agree on terms related to the divorce.
Mediators are often confused with arbitrators. They are not quite the same. What happens in a mediation is not binding. In other words, the mediator cannot make decisions for the two parties. An arbitrator, however, will meet with the two parties and then decide the outcome.
If you are getting a divorce in Washington, you are not required by state law to use mediation. But the family law courts to do encourage its use.
Benefits of Mediation
There are a number of reasons why a party to a divorce might choose mediation over a trial in the family law court. These include issues of affordability, convenience, and confidentiality.
The cost to mediate a divorce case is much less than the cost of full litigation, as a mediator’s hourly rate it’s generally much lower than an attorney’s. Even if you are represented at mediation, your case is likely to conclude faster with this option.
Some mediators will offer their services in the evenings and on weekends. Not only does this provide convenience for both parties, but wrapping up your case more quickly allows you to get on with your life even quicker.
Court cases can become public spectacles. All of your issues will be on display for anyone who wishes to enter the courtroom and take a seat. On the other hand, mediations are handled in private, and what happens during the conference is considered confidential.
Is Mediation Right for Me?
For some couples, working with a mediator might be the perfect solution to obtain a divorce with as little conflict as possible. But mediation only works if both parties are willing to participate and compromise.
Realistically, many parties become more agreeable as a case approaches a trial date. The desire to avoid going to court can push parties to make more concessions in a divorce settlement.
While having an attorney isn’t necessary to participate in the mediation process, most people choose to have a legal advocate in their corner. When mediation occurs, there may be a variety of offers and options presented between the parties. Your family law attorney can help you evaluate these offers and formulate the most beneficial counter-offers.
AB Law helps clients throughout the Tacoma area with family law matters, including divorce, child custody, and child support issues in and outside the courtroom. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.