Mediators are trained to assist parties in negotiating the terms of their divorce, including division of marital assets and liabilities, child support, alimony and child timesharing and developing a parenting plan. In order to negotiate fairly and neutrally for both parties, a mediator must understand the parties’ needs. A mediator must have good listening skills, patience, tolerance, flexibility, creativity, and persistence, as well as the ability to handle conflict and be empathetic to the affected parties.
Once the mediator assists the parties in narrowing the scope of their dispute, the mediator may meet privately with each of the parties in order to reduce the level of conflict in the room, This meeting, known as a caucus, is private and allows the mediator to assist the parties in reaching a decision as to how he or she wishes to proceed. Often, if the mediator is able to voice the other party’s point of view it is seen as less offensive than listening to the parties themselves.
The mediator, as an objective third party, is often able to identify options the parties may not have considered. This creative component of a mediator’s role is the one most mediators enjoy. Warring parties often become so entrenched in their positions that they see agreement as a sign of weakness. The mediator can often craft solutions that incorporate elements of compromise and gain for each party. Being able to “think out of the box” is, therefore, a critical skill for an effective mediator.
If an agreement is reached and the parties are not represented by attorneys the mediator will work with the parties to reduce their agreements to writing. When parties are represented by attorneys, the attorneys will write the agreement as negotiated by the parties with the assistance of the mediator. In family mediation, the agreement is called a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) and will include a Parenting Plan if there are children involved. Once signed, the MSA and Parenting Plan are presented to the judge at a final hearing for dissolution of marriage. At the time, the judge will incorporate the agreement into a final order that is enforceable by the court.
Whether the mediation is a divorce, contract, foreclosure, or any other matter, the mediator’s role is the same. He or she must serve as an unbiased objective third party to assist the parties in resolving their disputes. In order to do so, the mediator must identify and clarify the issues for the parties, try to find creative solutions that allow each party to gain and compromise, and ensure that any agreement reached is reduced to writing. Despite whatever additional training a mediator has, the mediator may not serve in any other capacity to the clients. Mediation has becomes an important tool within our legal system for resolving disputes. It saves people time, money, and helps preserve relationships.
Let the mediators at Family Law Cooperative mediate your case in a cost effective and productive manner. Call today at (954) 367-5471 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free initial consultation.