Celebrate Mediation Day – October 18, 2012
October 18, 2012 is Mediation Day! Mediation is a process for resolving conflict and coming to an agreement where decision-making remains with the parties. A neutral mediator assists parties in arriving at a mutually acceptable agreement, but, in contrast to an adversarial proceeding, mediation emphasizes cooperative problem solving and addressing the needs of all involved.
Mediation can be used for all types of conflict however it is particularly useful in the context of divorce and family disputes. Mediation can be far less time consuming and costly. A mediating couple typically works directly with one professional, as opposed to two separate lawyers, and focuses directly on the issues most important to them. Parties set their own timeframe for resolving issues without waiting months for the next court date and having to work within the confines of the litigation system. Most importantly, in contrast to the adversarial nature of the traditional litigation system, mediation seeks to improve parties’ understanding of each other and their ability to communicate. In the context of divorcing or separated parents who will need to co-parent for years to come, emerging from a divorce with the ability to communicate effectively and with respect is especially important.
Mediators propose and get consensus on the resolution process, elicit, explore and generate options, help parties negotiate, refine decision-making, and arrive at a final agreement. A mediator can help educate parties in a neutral manner and keep the focus on the children’s needs. Mediation can even work when parties desire to mediate their disputes, but cannot do so while in the same room. Mediation can be achieved online via Skype or another online service, or via conference call or speaker phone. ). This
Parties who are uncomfortable going forward with mediation without attorneys, or who feel the need for additional personal support (for example, if one party is more financially sophisticated), can use a process called “team mediation”. Here, individuals can reap the benefits of mediation with the protection and guidance of their own attorney. Additional specialists, such as financial planners, psychologists, divorce coaches, career counselors or social workers, may also be used to help create a better life for the parties post-divorce. With team mediation, each party agrees to work with an attorney who is committed to the mediation process and who is present only to the extent desired by the parties. Mediating parties and their attorneys agree to negotiate in good faith, without use or threat of litigation, to provide full and accurate disclosure, to seek ways to minimize costs when possible, to protect confidentiality and to refrain from taking unfair
advantage of each other or of the process itself. The mediator can help raise points that an attorney would not be free to raise for strategic reasons and help the parties view issues from a neutral standpoint with a focus on resolving the dispute, rather than validating one party’s position and seeking to “win”. A mediator can minimize side arguments and adversarial positioning between attorneys and monitor the progress of a case, while concentrating everyone’s efforts towards a mutually satisfactory conclusion.
Join me in celebrating Mediation Day this October 18 and help raise awareness of mediation as an alternative for the peaceful resolution of even the most difficult family disputes.
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