Why Most Cases Settle in Mediation


What is Mediation?

You may have heard the term mediation in the context of litigation.  It’s a common way in Madison County and the surrounding areas, that cases are resolved.  In mediation, the parties hash out their differences with a neutral mediator.  Most of the time they are represented but sometimes the parties decide to try mediation before they seek representation.  I’m a certified mediator and my associate Jamerson Godsey is certified as well.  We are firm believers in mediation and manage to settle many cases within the mediation process.

The Positive Outcomes of Mediation

One of the most valuable aspects of mediation is the parties’ control over the outcome of the case.  If you go to court, the Judge is going to be the one dictating how things are divided and the custody designation.  If you meditate, you can fashion the agreement in a way that addresses your individual concerns and issues.  For instance, if you have several properties, the court is likely to have them sold with no agreement by the parties.  You and your spouse can work together and come up with a plan to divide the equities that don’t involve selling the properties.  The parties can be as creative in their resolution.  Judges don’t have the time to be creative.  They have too many cases to be involved in the minute details of an issue.  But you can get into those with a mediated agreement.  The same goes for visitation schedules.  We have a standard visitation schedule in Madison County and the court is not likely to deviate.  However, if you want every Thanksgiving to go to Aunt Sally’s in Wisconsin, you can agree to that in the mediation.

Another positive is the time and money-saving aspect.  If you have a complicated case with many assets or issues, your costs can spiral easily.  You can avoid much of that if you can come to an agreement in mediation.  Cases often get set for trial multiple times and each time you incur charges and fees.  If you can manage to resolve your case you can have it written up and be divorced within the next week or so if the case has already been filed.

What Does The Process Look Like?

All of the mediations I have been involved in have separated the parties during the process.   This helps by diffusing the animosity and enabling the parties to be more rational.  Mediation is much less stressful than going to a trial and this can also help you with your mental health during a divorce.  Many clients don’t want to air their history in public.  They prefer to have the details of their lives kept private and mediation insures they won’t have to testify.  I have seen clients cry with relief as we have resolved a matter in mediation.

Success in Mediation

In order to have a successful mediation, you have to be ready to go forward with the divorce.  I have had situations where one party didn’t want the divorce (although it’s inevitable) and we had hours of waiting for them to agree to anything.  If one party in the state of Alabama wants to get divorced, you cannot prevent them from doing so, even if you are objecting on religious grounds. You should be clear on what you want to receive in the divorce settlement to keep the settlement negotiations moving smoothly.  Recently, I was in mediation and my client said, “I did much better than I expected to do today”.  Great!  He had designed a best case and a worst case and knew he would settle for either.  Knowing your intention is vastly helpful.  Having a qualified attorney with you will help you know what is likely to occur if you go to trial.

All in all, mediation is a tool for people who want the least confrontational and expensive outcome. Contact one of our experienced family law attorneys for help with your case.

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