What is Mediation and How Does it Work?

A family law matter doesn’t have to be an adversarial game in which you and the other party face off and fight about everything from child custody to spousal and child support to who gets the linens and the lawnmower. Even if the two of you are still far apart on many issues, you have a choice that is less costly—both financially and emotionally. Mediation offers an alternative to traditional litigation that allows you to work out differences in an atmosphere where consensus, not contentiousness, is the way to reach mutually acceptable resolution.

Mediation is a negotiation process that is…

  • Solutions-oriented
  • Respectful
  • Peaceful
  • Collaborative
  • Cost-effective

As a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), mediation offers a way to get through a divorce or child custody dispute without the cost and turmoil of litigation. The mediator acts as a neutral party who doesn’t “take sides,” but rather facilitates communication between you and your spouse, helping you find ways to reach an agreement. A great advantage of mediation is that you and the other party decide all or most of the terms of the settlement of your issues, rather than having a judge make the decision for you.

All aspects of your matter can be covered under an agreement reached through mediation including but not limited to child custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support (alimony) and division of property.

Ohio mediation process

Once you and the other party agree to try an Ohio mediation process as a positive way to resolve disputes, you will meet with the mediator to discuss your views and issues. You and your spouse must agree on the choice of a mediator. Typically, the mediator will meet with you and the other party together so that time isn’t wasted and there are no communication mishaps. In some cases (such as if there is a history of substance abuse, anger issues, etc.), the mediator may meet with the parties separately.Once you, the other party, and the mediator have met, the process has been explained and the ground rules have been set, the next steps include:

  • Your mediator will ask each of you to talk about how you see your situation and what your goals are.
  • As problems are identified, the mediator may ask additional questions for clarification and reiterate what each party has stated to ensure that everybody understands each other’s points. Information is needed in order to move forward effectively, so you should expect to supply pertinent data such as work schedules, tax returns, bank statements, insurance policies, and mortgage documents.
  • Your mediator will give you information about the process, expectations, and next steps.
  • Most importantly, your mediator will facilitate discussions between you to help you reach agreement. This may include alternative ideas for solving problems and finding solutions that lead to an agreement.

Once you both are satisfied with the arrangement you have reached, the mediator writes a memo outlining the agreements you have made. It is then submitted to you, your spouse and your attorneys for review. Once approved, the attorneys carefully draft the agreements, orders, and other necessary documents; all parties sign the document; and it is submitted to the court as a dissolution or uncontested divorce.

Mediation is not for everyone

There are some situations in which mediation can be damaging, could trap you in a legal nightmare, and should not be attempted:

  • If the other party has engaged in physical violence; sexual coercion; physical or electronic stalking; financial abuse; coercive control; repeated intimidation; threats of violence, or other domestic abuse;
  • If in the presence of the other party, you find yourself “walking on eggshells,” flinching when they’re angry, or “fawning” (reactively trying to do whatever it takes to sooth them);
  • If the other party has an unresolved substance abuse problem;
  • If the other party has an inadequately treated mental health issue that can prevent rational thinking (bipolar, psychosis, schizophrenia, some personality disorders, etc.)

Get more information about how mediation may be of benefit to you

Is mediation right for you? Parties often find that a mediated settlement helps them reach agreement in a way that is more affordable and less stressful for everybody than litigation, especially when children are involved. To learn more about mediation in Central Ohio, please call us at 614-505-5555 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation.