Another type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is mediation. In general, a mediator is a neutral, third party who facilitates the communication of the parties to reach an agreement. Lindsay B. Coleman has been a certified mediator since 1998. That means that she has the knowledge and experience to guide clients through the mediation process. Also, judges are able to refer mediation cases to her because she is on the Judicial Circuit Court List of Approved Mediators.
Through mediation, you can save time and money by working with your partner and a certified mediator to create a settlement agreement. You can avoid the drama of the traditional, and often more adversarial approach, by making decisions together that are in the best interest of everyone involved. And, you can ensure more satisfying solutions because you have had a hand in creating them.
How the mediation process works
Once a mediator is chosen or appointed, the mediator leads a series of meetings with both parties. During the first meeting, the mediator provides an opening statement that outlines his/her role as a neutral party, the role of participants, and the ground rules for the mediation process.
Next, each side has the opportunity to present their primary concerns, interests, and goals related to the divorce. The mediator will then ask follow up questions to both parties. This gives the mediator the chance to build a rapport with both parties and assess their primary needs and concerns.
After all the information has been gathered, the mediator will articulate the common goals and interests of both parties and begin the negotiation process. Negotiations will look different for everyone who is involved in the mediation process. However, the primary goal during the process is to craft a settlement agreement.
Once the settlement agreement is created, a court appearance will be the last step to finalize the agreement.
When you are able to negotiate in good faith and reach an agreement, you are able to participate in mediation
The benefits of mediation
- Confidentiality: Mediators do not disclose any information revealed during the sessions. In the end, the courts will only see the settlement agreement to finalize it, so anything brought up throughout the process is not on the public record.
- Time and money: Typically, mediation takes less time to complete. That is because most people who choose mediation are able to negotiate in good faith and both have a vested interest in finalizing the agreement and moving forward with their lives. Also, when you work with a mediator, you do not need to hire an attorney, which saves both parties money.
- Decision making power: Both you and your partner have a say in any decisions that are made. Nothing is imposed upon you by a third-party decision maker. Because of this, people who use a mediator are typically more satisfied with the solutions that are created. This makes it easy to move forwards and avoid any problems in the future.
- Preservation of Relationships: If you have children or a shared business, then you need to maintain a functional relationship once your divorce is finalized. Because there is not a “win/lose” mentality with mediation, relationships are more likely to be preserved.
Other things to think about if you’re considering mediation
If mediation is not completely successful, you do have other options. You can part ways, hire individual attorneys, and take a more traditional approach to negotiations (and possibly litigation). It may also be possible to try a different Alternative Dispute Resolution, such as collaborative divorce. Having other professionals involved, like a financial advisor, may help you come to an agreement on the last issue or two that may be holding things up.
That being said, according to the American Arbitration Association, about 85% of mediations result in a settlement. After all, if you and your partner are both willing to attend meetings and participate in good faith negotiations, you ultimately have the same goal: to finalize your divorce and pursue your future. That is a powerful motivator and why alternative dispute resolution is typically so successful.
Mediation, however, may not be a good choice if there is a power imbalance in your relationship. If you have never had a say so in financial matters, if you’ve had limited decision making power for the children or family in general, or if you feel like your partner will intimidate you into an unsatisfactory agreement, mediation is likely not for you. In addition, if there has been abuse in the relationship, this process could further the mental anguish that you have suffered.
You need an experienced mediator to help you create a settlement agreement that is favorable to all parties
It takes a lawyer with compassion and integrity to facilitate a mediation process with effective communication that leaves clients happy with the agreement and who keeps personal and professional relationships intact. Lindsay B. Coleman is the mediator that is able to do just that. In fact, her reputation as a mediator has preceded her and judges have referred to her and assigned her numerous mediation cases for about two decades. She has the skills to remain neutral and objective and ensure that everyone walks away happy with the final agreement.