There are times when serious issues in a marriage cannot be settled by the spouses and additional assistance is needed. Mediation can help couples come to positive agreements on difficult issues.
The family law lawyers at Tucker, Nong and Associates has extensive years of experience in family mediation matters. We can help you secure an agreement with your spouse that ensures that your best interests are protected.
Mediation is a somewhat misunderstood term in the legal world. Mediation is a process in which a third party or “mediator” helps two or more parties resolve their disputes. In many situations, the mediator is a qualified family law attorney because they have extensive knowledge of family law.
Mediation can be informal or formal depending on the preferences of the two parties in a dispute. It should be remember that the goal of mediation is to come to a successful agreement that mutually benefits both parties.
Some situations are better suited for mediation than others. You should always speak with a family law lawyer who can help you decide if mediation is right for you.
There are a range of services that are categorized as “mediation services”. Tucker, Nong and Associates is able to help you in any of the following ways:
Some couples decide to move forward with divorce using a mediator. This is called a “mediated divorce”. In this situation, couples may meet directly with the mediator and in other situations, each spouse meets with their own private attorney. The goal of this process is to create an agreement that will be signed off by a judge with little/no scrutiny. Couples may decide on pursuing a mediated divorce if they can cooperate to some degree and in general, a mediated divorce is less expensive than a contested divorce.
Couple who are interested in collaborating on a specific type of agreement, such as a prenuptial agreement may elect mediation to make the process easier on both parties. For a list of common agreements, Please visit our pages on:
Settlement (Divorce) Agreements
The Mediation Process
Mediation takes place in meetings called “sessions”. At times a mediator will meet with both parties simultaneously. This is known as a “joint session”. At other times, a mediator will meet with a party separately to discuss particular issues, this is known as a “private caucus”. There is no designated/required amount of time that a mediator must spend in private caucuses, and many times a mediator may have to meet with one party more often or for more time than the other party.
Mediation is a confidential process which means that any and all information made by either party in a joint session or private caucus is not available for use in court, even if the parties cannot reach an agreement. A communication made in a private caucus by one party will remain private to the other party unless otherwise specified.
If an agreement is reached that satisfies both parties, a written agreement is drafted. Once this agreement is signed by each party, it can be enforced by the court.
Areas of Family Mediation
Mediation uses a third party to facilitate communication in a safe environment between two parties with a dispute in hopes of encouraging voluntary decision making.
Family mediation can occur over a wider variety of unique issues such as divorce or other types of family disputes. Some of the more common issues that are discussed in family mediation include:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Disputes over debt
- Division of property
- Other family matters
Recent research shows that when mediation is conducted properly, the parties involved are typically satisfied with the arrangement they reach.
Choosing a Mediator
In many cases, parties choose/select a mediator for the mediating process. Even if the mediation is court ordered, parties typically have an opportunity to participate in the mediator selection process. Choosing the right mediator is important for the success of mediation. It is beneficial if the mediator has experience in family mediation.
Tucker, Nong and Associates offers experienced and understanding mediators who are able to facilitate useful communication between disputing parties. Our mediators know how to help individuals prepare for mediation as well as properly guide them through the mediation process from start to finish.
Preparing for Mediation
Participating in mediation can make people nervous because they don’t know what to expect. Being prepared/organized for mediation will help you feel more comfortable during mediation. The attorneys at Tucker, Nong and Associates always educate their clients on the mediation process before mediation actually begins so that neither party is surprised or caught off guard when mediation commences.
The Attorney’s Role in Mediation
Lawyers can provide very valuable services in mediation. It is highly encouraged to use an experienced family law attorney during mediation so that parties are aware of any legal elements which may be effecting their issues.
Attorneys can play multiple roles in the mediation process. They can either be the third party mediator or assist only one party. It is the decision of the parties how to use an attorney’s services during mediation. Some parties elect for attorneys to only participate in the planning and analysis of mediation. This means that the attorney will help prepare a party before mediation and help the party analyze the results of a joint session or individual caucus.
Some parties elect for their attorney to be present with them during mediation sessions. Deciding how the attorney can help you voice your point of view is an important item to consider.
Tucker, Nong and Associates employs experienced family attorneys who can help you communicate effectively during mediation sessions as well as help you understand your options.
Preparing for Family Mediation
Before participating in a family mediation session, it is important to consider specific questions. Some important questions you should ask yourself before participating in family mediation are:
- What is the conflict actually about?
- What is the point of view of the other party?
- If the dispute involves a child – what are the child’s needs?
- Are issue being caused by misunderstandings or hurt feelings?
- Are there any issues that you and the other party agree on?
- What are the specific issues you and the other party disagree about?
- What types of information, documentation, legal rules or other outside elements could change the other party’s opinion regarding a specific issue?
- What types of information, documentation, legal rules or other outside elements could change your opinion regarding a specific issues?
- What specific goals do you hope to achieve through mediation?
- What do you want the other party to understand about your position?
- What would satisfy the other party (in terms of behavior, payment of money, arrangement of visitation, etc.).
- What is your best possible outcome if you and the other party are unable to reach an agreement?
Trying to understand and analyze all of this information is difficult and it is unwise to not have addition assistance when attempting to decide whether an agreement benefits you. Utilizing the services of an experienced family immigration attorney can help you sort through these questions as well as help you understand the clear strengths and weaknesses of your case before entering mediation. An attorney can also help you identify compare different agreements and choose the agreement that will benefit you most.
Pursuing Family Mediation
There are two commonly used strategies of negotiation used in family mediation. These strategies are, “positional negotiation” and “interest-based” negotiation. These styles of negotiation may be employed at different times throughout the mediation process, depending on the situation.
Interest-based negotiation requires that each party describe their personal interests and examine options that would satisfy the interests of both parties. Positional negotiation involves each party trying to get the best result for themselves and is conducted by proposing and exchanging various offers.
When someone is involved in family mediation, they are influenced by past events and feelings towards the opposite party. Enlisting the services of a family law attorney can help you objectively look at mediation and advice which style of negotiation will have the best results.
Why Hire a Lawyer?
Although mediation is generally a more cooperative process, there will most likely be times when you would like to know your legal rights. Mediation can be complicated and hiring an experienced family law lawyer can benefit you in the following ways:
Legal Advice: During mediation, having access to your own personal counsel can make all the difference. Mediation generally takes several sessions. After each session, your lawyer can help you understand the developments of each session as well as advise you on how to proceed with future mediation sessions.
Evaluate Outcomes and Costs. A family law attorney can help you asses the different possible outcomes as mediation develops. This can include predicting whether or decide if a full trial will be needed and what the legal costs of a trial could be. This ability to plan for the future can significantly benefit you while in mediation.
Reviewing Agreements. Having a competent lawyer review any and all agreements is arguably one of the most important benefits to mediation. Important agreements signed by you and your spouse can affect you for years to come, so it is always best to have a qualified family lawyer make sure the agreement protects your best interests.
Preparation of Documents. A legal advisor can work with the court and help you prepare all necessary documents that need to be filed. Proper filing of required documentation can save you time and money.
Predict outcomes and costs.
A legal adviser can also help predict the range of possible legal outcomes if you were to go to court — and the cost of paying a lawyer to fight for them. Knowing the possible outcomes can be essential to a successful negotiation.
Perhaps most important, a legal adviser can review any written agreement prepared by the mediator to make sure that it says what you want it to say and that it will be legally binding once signed.
Prepare court documents.
Finally, your legal adviser can interface with the court, helping you prepare the papers for an uncontested divorce once your settlement agreement is signed, if your mediator does not do that for you.
Do You Find Yourself In Need Of A Family Lawyer In Virginia, Maryland Or Washington D.C.?
If you find yourself considering divorce or need to fight for custody of your children you need to speak with an experineced family law attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Vienna, Virgnia office directly at 703.991.7978 or our Rockville, Maryland office at 301.637.5392 to schedule your free case consultation.