As a Baton Rouge divorce lawyer, I handle some of the most difficult cases in the legal field. I understand that there is very little that evokes passion, anger, frustration, and worry like a difficult divorce or a battle for custody of the children. While mediation isn't appropriate in every case, I recommend it where possible, because it helps families manage divorce and custody processes themselves.
What is mediation?
Mediation is one form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, which you may occasionally see referred to as ADR. ADR refers to non-traditional legal processes such as arbitration and mediation. Mediation refers to a process where both parties and a neutral third party, a mediator, attempt to create an agreement that works for all parties. Generally, a judge will have to sign off on the final agreement, but this is rarely an obstacle.
In contrast, arbitration is a process similar to mediation, but the arbitrator, unlike the mediator, has the authority to issue orders.
Your attorney may not be permitted in the room with you during mediation, or if he is, may not be permitted to speak. However, things you say in the course of mediation may not be admitted if the case later goes to a court hearing, so you shouldn't worry if your attorney can't participate.
What are the advantages of mediation?
- You make the decision. Unlike in a courtroom, the two people who know the situation best will make the final decision on your case. The decision will not be made by a judge.
- You will be happier with the decision.
- It may take less time and cost less - in both the short run and the long run. Your initial meeting with the mediator may take a while, but so can waiting for your case to be called in court, and unlike in court, you are an active participant in the process. Also, because you work out the agreement directly with the other party, you're less likely to need frequent court dates in the future.
- It's less adversarial. There are a lot of great things about a court system that pits two parties against each other, but in divorce and custody situations, it can add to the stress and hostility between the parties.
Is mediation right for you and the issues present in your divorce or custody case? Contact us to discuss the facts of your case. If appropriate we can contact one of the mediators with whom we are familiar and arrange things with the other party's attorney.