A skilled mediator very often can help couples work out their own solutions, with or without the use of attorneys. A mediator is unbiased third party professional trained in negotiation techniques to facilitate agreement between the parties. Though a mediator cannot impose a solution on the parties, a divorce settlement agreement reached as a result of mediation has the force of a court judgment.
The mediator has an equal and balanced responsibility to assist each mediating party and cannot favor the interests of one party or any particular result. Mediators are ethically obligated to acknowledge any substantive bias on the issues. The mediator’s role is to ensure that parties reach agreements in a voluntarily and informed manner, and not as a result of coercion or intimidation.
Informed and Voluntary
It is essential that participants understand the nature of the mediation process before consenting to participate. Participants can leave a mediation at any time for any reason, or for no reason. Each participant has complete decision-making power over each provision of any mediated settlement agreement. Results cannot be imposed either participant.
Collaborative and Satisfying
Participants in mediation cannot impose a result on anyone, this motivates participants to work together to solve the issues to reach the best agreement possible. Based upon having actively participated in voluntarily resolving issues, participant satisfaction and the likelihood of compliance are found to be elevated through mediation compared to court options.
Mediation discussions and all materials developed for a mediation are generally not admissible in any later court or other contested proceeding, except for a finalized and signed mediated agreement. The mediator should describe the extent of mediation confidentiality and exceptions to that confidentiality.
The mediation process includes the opportunity to obtain legal and other expert advice. Individual or mutually acceptable experts can be retained, though expert advice does not rule the result. The participants always retain decision-making power. Mediators are likely to encourage parties to have any mediated agreement involving legal issues reviewed by independent legal counsel before signing.