During the past seven months of at-home work I have had the opportunity to settle many of my pending cases. It seems people have been motivated to compromise knowing that the court backlog kept growing, minimizing the opportunity for a quick court resolution (if there ever was such a thing). Clients voiced a desire to move on with their lives when it became clear that normalcy was not returning too quickly. So, moving on became a form of control in an uncontrollable atmosphere. Mediation is a form of alternate dispute resolution that is less costly than litigation and has the further benefit of giving the parties a hand in determining their own destinies. A mediated resolution allows for parties to make decisions that are best suited for their families and that a court may not be able to accomplish under the stringent limitations of the statutes and case law judges must follow. For instance, parties can “horse-trade” their assets as best suits them, judges do not have that same leeway.
During the shutdown of the court system we all became much more familiar with and adept at using on-line platforms for meeting face-to-face, with programs such as Zoom, Google Meet and others. The ability to use private breakout rooms for confidential communication and sharing screens for providing information lends itself to mediation without the necessity of leaving home. There are many advantages to taking this route to resolve your differences in a more cooperative way as COVID cases begin to climb and we prepare for the winter “surge.” Just as uncontested divorces in many jurisdictions are now being routinely scheduled for remote hearings, mediation using these platforms may be here to stay.
Mediation can be with or without the assistance of counsel. In addition, there are professionals specifically trained in mediation that may or may not be lawyers. Some are mental health professionals, and a good choice for a mediator may be a retired judge. It is always recommended that you understand your rights in a family law matter before engaging in mediation. It is essential to be familiar with specific defined terms in family law before mediation begins. For example, in custody matters you will want to know the definition of “legal custody” and if property is to be divided, you will want to understand the concept and definition of marital property and non-marital property. If support is an issue, then you will want to understand the various components of child support as well as the factors a judge will consider if alimony is sought. Consequently, a consultation with a lawyer is always in order before undertaking a mediated resolution. An educated participant will be able to make informed decisions when trying to mediate and thus has a greater chance of a resolution without court involvement. If you need assistance in a family law matter or want to discuss the advantages of mediation, feel free to call or email me at 410.659.1398 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Want more resources about the pandemic? Check out our COVID-19 Resource page.