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.
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.