Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) which is a consensual, informal process that is designed to help individuals resolve disputes. It is a process by which parties identify issues, explore creative solutions and negotiate the terms of an agreement. In the age of COVID-19, I submit that mediation, now more than ever, can offer a viable alternative to resolving your family law matter. In this blog post, I have identified four (4) reasons to choose mediation.
Control and certainty seem to be eluding us all as we continue to face an uncertain return to what we previously knew as “normal.” The day-to-day uncertainty that parties face as they contemplate separate lives is compounded by the fact that, at present, the courts in New York State are only addressing what have been deemed “essential” matters. This means that the majority of individuals with family law disputes are left in limbo until “normal” court operations resume. Unlike the traditional litigation route, the mediation process allows parties to have control over the outcome of their case now – not at some undetermined time in the hopefully, near future.
When the parties select the mediation process, the parties or their counsel mutually agree upon a mediator. The mediator is an impartial facilitator without authority to designate a resolution or decide any aspect of the case. The mediator is there to facilitate dialogue and help the parties reach resolution. Each mediator has a different level of experience and skill so it is important to choose a mediator that best suits the needs of your family. Selecting the appropriate mediator often times will increase the chance of reaching an amicable resolution. Some mediators are experienced in financial issues whereas others focus primarily on issues of child custody and may have a mental health background.
Mediation gives the parties the ability to be creative when reaching a settlement, whereas the court may be limited in its powers. This creative benefit of mediation is especially apparent now in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic which has all but brought normal court operations to a screeching halt.
The mediation process is private, confidential, and entirely voluntary, meaning it can be terminated at any time by a party or a mediator. Individuals who choose to mediate their family law matters may never have to enter a court room or hand their matters over to a judge, a virtual stranger, who has no real day-to-day knowledge of the fabric of their family.
- Continuing Relationships Between Co-Parents:
Many litigants who have successfully navigated the mediation process have reported a decrease in levels of tension and conflict in their relationship with their ex or soon-to-be ex-spouse especially when children are involved. Given these unprecedented times, the mediation process, which is non-adversarial in nature, will allow the parties to sit down (whether virtually or in the same room) and have hard discussions about what life will look like when they decide to separate their households. This joint decision to embrace communication with a joint goal of moving on with each other’s lives can be critical when parties’ incomes and lifestyles, and even their own mental and physical health may be profoundly altered.
In these unprecedented times where our very livelihoods and health are threatened by an “unseen” danger, it may be a breath of fresh air to choose a path less taken that could as they say, make all the difference.
If you are interested in learning more about the mediation process, and how it may help you resolve your family matter in the midst of COVID-19, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (516) 393-8297. The material appearing in this blog is meant to provide general information only and is not a substitute for nor is it legal advice to you. Readers of this article should seek specific advice from legal counsel of their choice.