What Family Law Mediation is All About
As with the other ADR processes, mediation may be either “mandatory,” that is, ordered by the Court, or “voluntary,” requested at any time by the parties to the dispute.
In mediation, a neutral third party called a “mediator” helps participants in the dispute create their own resolution. Unlike an arbitrator, the mediator makes no decision or findings about the facts of the case and makes no award. Rather, the mediator helps facilitate a discussion in which the parties reach a mutually agreed upon settlement. Therefore, mediation allows for more creative resolutions to disputes than other ADR processes.
To accomplish this, mediators foster communication among the parties to:
- clarify issues, interests and needs;
- explore the merits of each party’s positions;
- identify possible options for resolution.
One of the primary goals of mediation is enhancing the future relationship of the parties involved in the dispute, so the process is less adversarial and formal than either litigation or arbitration. For example, the rules of evidence and formal court procedures do not apply to mediation.
Sometimes mediation does not result in an agreement or resolution. In these cases, the parties have the right to return to court for a litigated decision. If the case returns to court, the mediator cannot be called to testify or produce notes or records of the mediation, as the rules of evidence are not the same for mediation as they are for litigation.
Mediators are not necessarily attorneys. However, all mediators, including attorneys, have received training or have the experience required by California law to be mediators for the Courts.
Survey results of participants in mediation consistently demonstrate a high satisfaction rate with both the results of the mediation and with the process itself. Because the resolution is determined by the parties and is not imposed on them, settlements achieved in mediation are upheld easily by the parties, and the agreements reached help to foster future positive relationships.
* We serve the following cities: Santa Clarita, Valencia, Canyon Country, Castaic, Saugus, Newhall, Lancaster, Palmdale, Los Angeles, Ventura, Van Nuys, Burbank, Glendale, Chattsworth, and all of the San Fernando Valley.