If you and the other party have decided to go with mediation as a way to settle your divorce, custody, or other family law issues, chances are you have many questions about the process: What should I expect? What happens if we can’t reach an agreement? Do I still need a lawyer? The good news is that mediation has helped thousands of parties in Ohio in a way that is less costly and less stressful than most litigated matters, and it has allowed them to reach a settlement that is mutually acceptable—without having to go to court.
Understanding the mediation process
Mediation is a legal process, which means that there are rules and guidelines designed to protect your rights as you work with the other party to reach an agreement that is fair, equitable, enforceable and acceptable to the court. The mediator is a neutral party who helps facilitate communication between you and the other party. Under Rule 16 of the Rules of Superintendence for Ohio Courts, specific mediation training is mandated when child custody is involved. Your mediator may be an attorney, but it is not required.
Ground rules for a mediation session include:
- Both parties must show respect each for other’s right to speak and voice their viewpoint
- Neither party should interrupt while the other is speaking
- Neither party should “filibuster” or speak for unreasonably long periods of time
- Each person should listen to what the other has to say
- Be aware of your emotions: if you need to step away for a moment, do so.
By adhering to these guidelines, you and the other party can get through the process and reach a settlement with which you can both live.
What are your three most important issues?
You may feel that it is difficult to narrow it down to three, but it’s often the case that the “small” issues are part of those big-picture items and become easier to resolve. Try not to be too broad. Instead of saying “child custody,” perhaps the central issue is that you want to make sure that you are involved in major decisions about child-rearing. Whatever your three most important issues are, write them down so you are prepared to have a meaningful discussion and reach a successful agreement.
Create a mediation road map
The ultimate goal of mediation is peaceful agreement that preserves relationships and helps both parties to have their interests met. Create a road map that will get you to your desired destination:
- Commit to the process
- Gather your information and communicate politely and constructively
- Think about your issues: what are possible options and potential solutions?
- Make decisions
- Come to an agreement
Find out more about Ohio mediation
Mediation is designed to help you and the other party reach an agreement that benefits not only the two of you, but also your children and anyone else who may be involved. You likely have many more questions about the Ohio mediation process. To learn more about your options, we invite you to call us at 614-505-5555 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation.