Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What is Mediation - And When Can It Help

With some counties pushing mediation as prerequisite to ever seeing a courtroom, I getting asked more questions about mediation and articles like What is Mediation do a good job of explaining the process. I suggest following the link and reading the whole as well as my excerpts

Divorce mediation is about you and your soon to be ex-spouse deciding your own divorce and what is best for the both of you and most importantly, your children. In mediation, you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party, the mediator, and with their help, you work through the issues you need to resolve so the two of you can end your marriage as amicably and cost effective as possible.
In mediation, the couple, with the help of the mediator, works out agreements on the above issues. Sometimes agreements come easy, sometimes they take time and a lot of work. When agreements are hard to reach, that is when the mediator intervenes. It is the mediators job to keep the lines of communication open, brainstorm ideas, reality test the couple, teach empathy and assist the couple in their decision making process. Mediators help keep the couple focused on the issues at hand, trying not to get them off track. When divorcing couples get off track and away from the above issues during mediation, arguing, name-calling and bad prior memories are brought up.
I do have a long-standing philosophical problem with mediation. Cases exist where no amount of persuasion will lead to a change of positions. In those cases the need exists for a person to say that this or that will be done by the parties. Those people we call judges. Therein also lies the basic difference between mediation and litigation.

I do have a criticism to make - which may describe more the difference between Indiana and Illinois rather than any error by the writer - of this paragraph:
In 2008, the average mediated case cost $3000 and was settled in 90 days. In turn, the average litigated case in the courts cost $15,000 and took 18 months to settle. Keep in mind, the litigated cases led to more spite and frustration between the divorcing couples, usually leading to a lose/lose situation for both. Not many people walk away from a litigated divorce feeling satisfied. On the other hand, couples who went through mediation felt satisfied with the agreements they had reached and both walked away feeling that they had gotten what they had wanted. Who would you rather have decide what happens with your children and assets after a divorce, you during mediation or attorneys and judges during a divorce in the courts? Who knows more about you, attorneys, judges or you? Why have people who know nothing about you tell you how you are going to live the rest of your life.
My criticisms are:
  1. I know Indiana has does not have any statistics on the costs of litigation versus mediation but I cannot think that the average in Illinois greatly higher than Indiana - or what I am billing!
  2. Do read this paragraph with the assumption that a lawyer can be done away with if you do mediation. Unless the parties prepare the necessary petitions and waivers, there is still the need for a lawyer.

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