Not every couple can resolve their differences on their own. When a custody dispute or divorce puts you and your partner at odds, you may need the help of a trained objective third party to come to a resolution you both can live with. Whether you are trying to avoid going to court, or have already filed your complaint and are ready for the case to be over, mediation may be the solution to your family dispute.
In this blog post, I will explain how facilitated mediation works in a domestic setting. I will discuss the benefits to mediation over traditional litigation, and explain how the two sometimes work together in resolving divorce and custody disputes.
Facilitated mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where an objective third party -- the mediator -- helps the parties (and their lawyers if they have them) negotiate a resolution to their family dispute. The mediator isn’t there to take sides. Instead she or he can help the parties understand the way Minnesota family law works, and help them apply that framework to their family’s needs.
Facilitated mediation isn’t about making your point, or winning your case. The mediator will help both parties identify needs, wants, and priorities, and then help them work together to guide them to a mutually agreed-upon settlement of their family dispute.
In the family law setting, facilitated mediation can help parents work out:
It can also be used to negotiate the division of assets and debts when spouses separate , as well as whether either party will help support the other through the transition.
Frequent readers of this blog may think that facilitated mediation sounds a lot like collaborative divorce. They are right that the principles are similar. Both strategies empower the parties to make their own decisions. In both cases the professionals are there to guide the parties and help them negotiate a settlement that respects their needs and priorities.
However, unlike collaborative divorce, facilitated mediation focuses on the present dispute. Collaborative divorce brings in subject matter experts to help the parties learn strategies and plan future conflict resolution methods. In facilitated mediation, the mediator meets the parties where they are and helps them resolve the family dispute they are facing today. It is a simpler process, and often less expensive, but it can be effective for resolving one-time conflicts such as divorce or move-away cases.
Many family lawyers believe settlement is the best solution to family disputes. Judges have limited time and information with which to resolve complicated divorce and custody matters. Even with the best lawyers, judges can sometimes misunderstand a party’s priorities, or reach a decision that doesn’t line up with your family’s realities. You and your partner are the experts on your family. Facilitated mediation can help you work out the details of your family dispute. Your lawyers, or even your judge, may recommend you attend facilitated mediation so you can avoid the time, expense, and heartache of trial.
Facilitated mediation can often be used to resolve disputes without court interference. If the parties choose to mediate their dispute before filing a complaint with the court, the settlement can often streamline the process and avoid unnecessary time in front of the judge. Facilitated mediation is also useful in cases where the parties aren’t on the best of terms. The mediator has strategies that can help the parties each voice their concerns, without the matter turning into a legal argument.
Family court can also be a very destructive place. Because it is adversarial in nature, you and your spouse or co-parent will be encouraged to sling mud and make mountains out of molehills. Each side will be trying to prove why their answer is best. And that can cause problems down the line. When parties spend so much time, energy, and money tearing each other down, it can be hard to stop once the judgment is entered. When parties rely on judges to make their decisions for them they are more likely to have to head back to court when later family disputes arise.
Kimberly is an experienced mediator with a successful record in reaching positive solutions for families. She can use facilitated mediation techniques to help you and your partner, spouse, or co-parent resolve your family disputes outside the courtroom. If you would like to learn more about facilitated mediation, please contact Kimberly.