Many couples preparing for divorce and those navigating other family law disputes consider mediation before litigation or while waiting to go to court. Family law mediation can help people settle matters related to property division, child custody or other family disputes as amicably as possible.
When mediation is successful, it will give the parties involved more control over the outcome when compared with a case where they litigate and rely on a judge to settle the dispute. The lawyers of each party usually attend mediation with them and help guide the clients through the process.
How can lawyers help their clients prepare for the unique challenges of family law mediation?
Explain what the law allows
One of the biggest challenges during a family law dispute involves encountering an individual with unreasonable expectations. People need to be familiar with custody laws in Washington if the matter relates to minor children. They also need to understand community property laws and other rules that may apply to their case. Discussing what the law permits can help people adjust their expectations before they attempt mediation.
Explain the mediation process
People sometimes put themselves at a disadvantage during mediation by failing to approach it as a negotiation process. They make their best offer immediately and then have to make concessions that upset them as they negotiate with the other party. Those preparing for mediation often need to negotiate very carefully so that they have room for compromise throughout the process.
In some cases, going into detail about the situation can help someone leverage the misconduct of the other party for a more favorable outcome. People can talk openly about misconduct in mediation because it is a confidential process, and the details exploded mediation typically do not become part of the public record. Those who know what to expect during mediation can find ways to allow for compromise and may feel less guilty about bringing in evidence of the other party’s misconduct.
Encourage emotional restraint
It is only natural for people to become intensely emotional about matters relating to their marriages or families. Unfortunately, emotions can undermine rational discussions during mediation. Lawyers need to instill in their clients the importance of remaining calm and collected during mediation to present themselves in the best light possible and obtain the best terms.
When it is successful, family law mediation can leave people far more satisfied with the outcome of a case and may even diminish how much settling a conflict costs. Helping clients prepare before family law mediation can improve the chances of success and diminish how stressful the process is for everyone involved.