The Importance of Mediation in Family Law

September 14, 2011 - by Eric Anderson

Mediation is an increasingly important process in the law, but especially important in the realm of family law to resolve divorce and child custody disputes.  Mediation is a process in which the parties meet with a neutral third person in an attempt to come to an agreement and resolve disputed issues.  In divorce and custody cases, the court will often order the parties to try mediation before proceeding all the way to a court trial. 

Mediation makes sense from both a practical and a tactical standpoint.  By reaching an agreement through mediation, the parties will save significant time and money by avoiding costly court motions and trials.  Usually both parties split the cost of mediation.  Even if mediation is unsuccessful, the parties will have narrowed down the issues, which makes for a more focused and productive court trial if one becomes necessary.  Being prepared for trial is not only good for your case, but it also puts you in better standing in the eyes of the judge.

Most importantly, mediation leaves the decision-making in the hands of the parties instead of the court.  This is especially important in family law matters.  If the case goes to trial, the judge will only be able to make his/her decision based off the information that comes in at trial.  The judge does not know you or your children personally.  The judge does not witness you interacting with your children and your family.  The judge has not lived your life.  You are the person best suited to make decisions for your family, so it is critical that you sincerely attempt to work out your disputes before your decision-making power is transferred to a judge.  

Mediation also allows for more flexible solutions to your disputes - solutions that would otherwise not be available in court.  Parties are often dissatisfied with results obtained in court which leads to future conflicts that bring the parties back into court.  However, when parties work together through mediation to reach a resolution to their problems, they are more likely to follow through with the resolution and create lasting cooperation. 

You can mediate your issues at any time and even prior to filing anything with the court or hiring an attorney.  If you already have an attorney, ask them about mediation.  If you are contemplating a divorce and anticipate disputes, or if you are having custody or post-divorce problems, you should consider mediation as an alternative to litigation.

Disclaimer: No case or client-specific information shall be discussed on this website. The content provided is informational only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions about divorce or custody in Minnesota , please seek the advice of an attorney.