Mediation has become an increasingly popular way to resolve family law disputes.
Mississippi courts may require couples involved in a divorce or other family law dispute to try it.
Basically, in a mediation, a third party called a mediator will try help the two sides agree on any outstanding issues. Often, the mediator is an experienced family law attorney, a retired judge or someone else with some knowledge of family law.
In a divorce, the mediator will address the division of property, child custody and support, alimony and other issues that a judge would otherwise resolve.
The mediation process is confidential. Nothing that a person says during a mediation can later be used against them in court. This confidentiality allows the parties to talk freely about their respective differences so to reach an agreement.
The process is also voluntary. While both sides must give mediation a good faith effort, there is no obligation to reach an agreement. Either side may walk away from the table, and the case will continue to move toward a hearing in front of a judge.
Why would I want to mediate my family law matter?
Sometimes, courts will order a couple to try mediation. Otherwise, whether to ask for or agree to mediation will depend on a person’s situation. They should weigh this option carefully, especially since mediation is not the best choice for everyone.
However, there are some advantages to mediation a person should keep in mind:
- Mediation can save considerable time, stress and expense. Couples who agree on their issues will avoid a contested hearing. Depending on how early on they mediate, they can save other costs of litigation as well.
- In Mississippi, the only way to get a no-fault divorce is for both spouses to agree to the process. Otherwise, the party asking for the divorce must show they have legal grounds to do so.
- Mediation gives both sides control over what their post-divorce lives will look like. Even with the best preparation, a person may find themselves profoundly disappointed and surprised by a judge’s decision.
- Mediation can set a cooperative tone for the couple to follow should they have post-dissolution disputes. This is especially important if the couple has children, as the common wisdom these days is that children do better when their divorced parents are civil to each other.