Spouses and parents who are separating often use mediation as a method of resolving potential legal disputes.  Mediation is an informal process through which an impartial, third party mediator works with the former couple to resolve their disagreements together instead of letting the judge decide their case.  Mediators do not make decisions like a judge, but they help parties to discuss things they can work out between themselves.  Courts encourage trying mediation first, particularly in custody cases.

Mediation starts with the commitment of both parties to participate with an open mind.  If both individuals are prepared to talk about their priorities and listen to the wishes of the other parent or spouse, they may realize that they have similar ideas and goals.  The environment is also less confrontational and less stressful than appearing before a judge.

Even if a tentative agreement has already been reached, it can helpful to use a mediator can help to iron out the details.  A mediator can assist in writing a formal parenting plan or a marital settlement agreement.  The final, signed version can be submitted to the court and approved by a judge as an enforceable order.

Parties that choose to mediate family law issues maintain some control over their future.  It is possible to concede one position in exchange for keeping another that means the most.  For custody, it might mean giving up a weeknight visit for an extra Saturday with the kids.  In divorce, it might mean letting the spouse keep a car in exchange for the remaining balance in a saving account, for example.  When an agreement results from mediation, it can be a first step toward a more cooperative future relationship as co-parents or ex-spouses.

More information about Resolving Disputes Through Mediation can be found at Pa Council for Mediation. If mediation is right for you, call the Mazza Law Group, P.C. to meet as a couple with Judith Homan, a trained mediator and experienced family law attorney.