Mediation: What it IS, What it ISN’T, and How it can help YOU
In my office, We help couples and individuals plan their future after divorce using family law litigation and mediation. Most people can quickly understand the idea of traditional litigation, but mediation can be a bit more challenging to describe. Mediation is a lot of things… it is a conversation… it is an opportunity to stay in control of your own life… but as a process, it requires more explanation.
At its foundation, family law mediation is the process in which parties negotiate their own settlement for their divorce or parenting dispute, before the Court is involved. Couples meet together with a Supreme Court approved mediator to come to an agreement that they can both live with, and most importantly, is in the best interests of any children that may be involved. In nearly every mediation that comes to our office, both parties say, “I just want what’s fair.” The problem arises when there is a disagreement about what “fair” means in a given context. The mediator’s role is not to decide who is “right”, or suggest what is “fair”. Frankly, the mediator’s opinion of what is “fair” for each couple isn’t important. The mediator’s primary role is to keep the parties on track, level the playing field so that no one can take advantage of their spouse, and help them come up with options that they can agree are “fair” enough to live with, and that a Court will approve. Each party’s job is to be prepared, be open-minded, and be a strong advocate for themself and their children.
Because the parties are working together to plan their respective futures, they are able to avoid much of the cost, stress, anxiety and needless delays that plague traditional divorces cases. In nearly every mediated divorce case, couples are able to save a great deal of time, often completing their divorce in a few months instead of a year or more. This saved time naturally leads to saved money. Instead of paying a lawyer’s hourly rate for what can seem like an endless process, couples who choose mediation are able to manage the cost of their divorce and save their assets for the next chapters of their lives.
Mediation is not a battle where each side tries to get every inch they can from the other. Instead it is an opportunity for people to work together to find common ground and even respect their spouse’s goals. It is a conversation about how each person plans to move forward and live the next phase of their life, and what steps the parties must take collectively to ensure they can each move forward confidently and freely. If each person can let go of the conflict that led them to divorce and try to reach the finish line in an equitable way, mediation can be an empowering process that provides a roadmap for moving forward. Instead of being destructive, divorce and parenting negotiations can be about building a bridge to the future. That’s why mediation can ultimately be described as a gift that you give to yourself, your children and even your spouse.
If you would like more information on mediation, or would like to talk with a professional in our office about mediation, feel free to contact us at (314) 862-0202. We are located at 7101 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri 63130. If we are too far away to help you mediate in person, we can help anyone from Illinois or Missouri mediate via Zoom. We would be delighted to talk with you directly!