Trained mediators usually help the sides find solutions in a collaborative manner as neutral third party. The two parties may engage in mediation on their own volition as part of a positive resolution of a no-fault divorce, or at the direction of the courts to resolve certain parts of the dispute before the court rules on other parts.
Depending on the issue, different approaches to mediation can be weighed to determine the best way to achieve equitable results. These results generally involve less acrimony and are less expensive that courtroom litigation.
Common forms of mediation
Harvard Law School highlights the following types of mediation as most common:
- Facilitative mediation: The traditional form of mediation, this involves a mediator who encourages the two sides to voluntarily resolve their issues rather than a mediator rendering a decision.
- Evaluative mediation: The opposite of facilitative mediation, mediators will not remain neutral and will offer opinions and recommendations. The mediator will often focus on how the law would apply to this dispute. This is often helpful in court-mandated mediation.
- Court-mandated mediation: While mediation is typically voluntary, the courts may order mediation to address certain elements of the case. This enables the bench to focus on bigger issues or those where the two sides are furthest apart.
- Arbitration and mediation: This hybrid uses both approaches. First, the neutral mediator hears evidence and testimony much as an arbiter would and writes a decision that is binding, but then tries to mediate solution. If there is no solution, the mediator then unseals and issues that initial decision.
- Mediation and arbitration: Here the parties start with mediation, but typically sign an agreement that the final solution is binding. If the parties come to an impasse during mediation, the format then switches to arbitration. An arbiter may be brought in if mediation breaks down.
- E-mediation: This can be done when the two parties are not located in the same geographic area (thus saving the cost of travel), or because the emotions are so heightened that the parties agree it is best to not go through this process in the same room.
Speak with a mediator to discuss the best mediation option
Each legal case is different, so an attorney with family law and mediation experience can be helpful in walking the parties through their options. With the exception of court-mandated mediation, potential clients can determine if they think that mediation and a particular approach is the right fit for their dispute.