Family mediation involves an informal, voluntary process that helps families resolve their own disputes without going to court. Family mediators are neutral professionals who help parties in dispute communicate and reach their own agreements. In many cases, mediation allows for quicker and more cost-effective resolution of disputes compared to litigation. In addition, agreements reached through mediation are more likely to be followed compared to those decided by the courts.
The family mediation process can cover a variety of issues including divorce, separation, parenting, child support and alimony, property division and estate planning. Some family mediations are conducted in one session, while others require multiple sessions over a period of time agreed upon by the parties. The process is flexible and can be tailored to the needs of each family in dispute.
Generally, family mediators are trained to facilitate useful discussion and guide the parties through considering options that can help them address their specific issues. In some situations, family mediators can offer a more neutral perspective in the form of an evaluation. While mediation is typically not considered counseling, the process can be used to explore underlying emotional issues in the case. Some models of mediation are also ‘child-inclusive’, where a consultant can meet with children to discuss their views on the case. If parents are not able to agree on all of the details at mediation, it may be possible that some issues will need to go to court.