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Family Mediation

Did You Know?

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages 15 and 44 in the United States - more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Family Law - Family Mediation

Family Mediation is a voluntary way of resolving disputes where a trained mediator helps parties of relatively equal bargaining positions, to resolve disputes about family issues. Mediators are usually social workers, lawyers, psychologists, or other professionals. When these professionals work as family mediators, their job is to help parties reach an agreement on support payments, the division of property, custody of and access to the children, or any other family-related issues. Mediators do not take sides or make decisions for the parties. They cannot give legal advice.

Mediation is a process where a neutral third party with no decision making power - the mediator - helps people to negotiate a settlement to their dispute. One of the most important differences between mediation and the court process (which is called litigation) is that mediation allows people to reach agreements that meet everyone's interests. The court process, on the other hand, focuses on opposing legal rights and obligations of the parties. In litigation, one person wins and the other person loses.

A party considering mediation should speak to a lawyer before seeing a mediator. It is helpful to know the law and one's rights and obligations first, before mediation starts. Lawyers will usually not go to mediation with the parties. But, it is important for parties to show any agreement reached during mediation to their lawyers. Mediation is not appropriate for everyone, particularly in cases where there has been violence or abuse.

Mediation is voluntary. In order to ensure that cases are appropriate for mediation, mediators are required to screen their clients to ensure that:

  • Abuse has not occurred that has rendered either party incapable of mediating
  • No harm will come to either party or the children as a result of mediating
  • The parties' desire to mediate is voluntary
  • Any inequality in bargaining power can be managed so as to ensure that negotiations are

balanced and procedurally fair

  • Parties are psychologically ready to mediate and have the capacity to do so
  • The complexity of the case does not exceed the mediator's education, training and competence

Will I Need a Lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer. If there are substantial legal issues involved, it is best to consult a lawyer about what your legal rights are prior to coming to mediation. Mediators may or may not be lawyers, but in mediation, the mediator cannot give legal advice to the parties.


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