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Mediation & The Role of the MediatorOne of  the many stipulations of filing for a divorce in the majority of the U.S states is that a couple first tries to settle their differences before finalizing the divorce itself. This is so the courts can validate that both parties properly attempted to reconcile their differences, but failed, leaving divorce as the only alternative. This is known as mediation.

Mediation, as used in law, is a form of alternative dispute resolution, or “ADR.” It is a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties with concrete effects. Typically, a third party, called a mediator, assists the parties to negotiate a settlement. Spouses typically mediate disputes in a variety of areas, such as, finances, child custody and support, alimony, and more.

Mediation Explored
The term “mediation” broadly refers to any instance in which a third party helps others reach an agreement on matters that greatly influence their lives. Mediation is different from any other negotiation settlement, in that it has a structure, timetable, and dynamics that “ordinary” negotiation lacks. The process is private and confidential, especially when enforced by law. Participation is typically voluntary, however, in some divorce cases the court may rule it as mandatory.

Monkey in the Middle
The mediator acts as a neutral third party, and facilitates rather than directs the process of mediation between spouses. Mediators are specially trained in the areas of family law and domestic issues. They tend to use various techniques to open, or improve, dialogue between disputants, with the end goal being to help the parties reach an agreement on the list of issues at hand, and hopefully reconcile them. There are certified training programs, certifications, and licensing involved in producing trained, professional mediators, committed to the discipline. Many mediators even possess  Ph.Ds.

The mediator will go back and forth between the parties to attempt to help them reach an agreeable resolution to all or some of the pending divorce issues without the need for a hearing.They are persuaded to offer their unbiased perspective on any given case in order to resolve the issues. Becoming personally involved is against ethics and is in violation of the courts. Their task is to help the two parties come together in agreement, and that is all.

The mediator is not assigned to advise spouses as to the specific offers made by the opposing party at any time. However, the mediator may advise spouses that in their experience, a particular argument made by either spouse is not in the best interest of the case and may or may not be seen as such in court. He or she will also relay offers made by the opposing party. The mediator will also keep the information provided by both spouses confidential, unless he or she has permission to disclose it to the opposing party. It is important to understand, however, that the mediator will not be able to use the information you provide to your benefit with the opposing party if you do not authorize it to be released.

Mediation is a powerful tool that the courts and Family Law system use in order to deter divorce. The sanctity of marriage is still held highly in the eyes of the law, and this is used as a way to keep it as such. Solving issues is never easy, especially when they are close to the heart of those involved. Mediation is the last resort used in order to help those in dispute settle their differences. This is not always the case, but trying mediation before finalizing a divorce is the best way to know if divorce is indeed the right choice.

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