Understanding the Mediation Process

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process in which the parties, with or without attorneys, work with a neutral professional who facilitates a negotiation and/or helps the parties resolve a pending legal issue.  Mediation is an informal and non-adversarial process designed to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement.  A mediator can provide the parties with information but cannot provide legal advice. The mediator has no decision-making power.

Mediation for family law issues, such as divorce, custody, child/spousal support, and asset and debt division, offers a fair process in which the parties can discuss and decide for themselves, with the professional help of a mediator, arrangements for their children, support and property division.  The parties jointly hire a neutral mediator to facilitate solutions, foster joint problem solving, and explore settlement alternatives.

Voluntarily Resolving Differences

During the mediation session(s), the parties, their counsel (if retained), and the mediator work out a mutually satisfactory plan which addresses the children’s living arrangements, financial needs of the family, and all other issues that need a resolution.  The agreement reached at mediation is written into a formal document and signed by the parties. The mediation process is designed to reduce the adversarial element often encountered in a divorce or custody proceeding and it often saves time and money.

Mediation by itself is not a binding legal process. Once both parties agree on all divorce and/or paternity related matters, the mediation agreement must be submitted to the Court.  It is only after the Court reviews and adopts the mediation agreement that the agreement becomes a binding legal document, finalizing the divorce or paternity matter.

Leah Meshelle Snyder has been a certified family law mediator since 2008.  As a mediator, she can provide services as a neutral third party, or she can represent a client during their involvement in the mediation process.

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