Let’s say that one day your family law lawyer calls you and says that your spouse has offered to go to mediation, to try to resolve the issues in your divorce or custody case, or even in a post-judgment modification case. Do you accept that offer? What are the pros and cons to mediation?
Mediation May be Mandatory
In some cases, you may not have a choice whether or not to go to mediation. Many courts require mediation as a prerequisite to going to your family law trial. Sometimes, a divorce agreement or pre-nuptial agreement or some other document, may require that you go to mediation, before having your case heard in court.
But if you have a choice the question becomes, should you go to mediation?
No Real Harm
Because mediation is voluntary, and you, not the mediator, decide whether to settle your case and on what terms, there often is no harm to going to mediation. Worst case scenario, you cannot settle the case, and you leave, and your family law case continues the way that it would have without mediation.
The only real drawback to mediation is money, in the costs for the mediator and any attorneys fees, and the time you will need to be at the mediation. Certainly, if you feel there is no realistic probability of solving or resolving any matter in your family law case, you may want to opt against mediation.
Benefits of Mediation in Family Law Cases
However, mediation can also have some real benefits. Even if you do not settle the case, you may have the chance to hear what the other side’s position is, what they want, and what evidence that they intend to produce at your family law trial.
Mediation may narrow the issues at trial, because you can opt to settle some, but not all of the matters in your divorce at mediation, leaving the remaining issues to be resolved at trial. This can make your trial quicker and less expensive.
When is Mediation a Good Option?
Mediation may be a good option if your divorce has limited issues—say, you do not have kids, so the divorce is just about division of property. It may also be good if you and your spouse have a healthy working relationship, where you feel that you and he or she can rationally sit down in an honest give and take, and work matters out.
Mediation may also be a good idea, if you are looking for things a court cannot give you.
For example, let’s say you want to have the right of first refusal in a custody case. Or, you want your spouse to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Or you want to be reimbursed for an expense that legally is not reimbursable.
You can agree to any of these things and more at mediation, so long as you and your spouse agree. But a judge may not be legally be able to give you any of these things, so mediation may be the best option in this situation.
Contact our New Jersey divorce law attorneys at The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC for help today making the tough decisions in your family law or divorce case.