Mediation is a good-faith attempt of both sides to attempt to resolve their issues between themselves. Mediation can occur before going to court, during the litigation process, or to resolve issues that arise after a final order is made. In mediation, both parties meet with an attorney, who acts as Mediator. As Mediator, the attorney does not represent either party and does not offer legal advice. Instead, the attorney steers the conversation in a respectful and productive direction to help the parties come to an agreement. The Mediator can also help the parties turn the agreement into an order that can be filed with the Court.
In many family law cases, the judge will require the parties to attend a “Settlement Facilitation” and hires a neutral attorney to act as Facilitator. Settlement Facilitation is a more formal type of mediation. Each party is placed in a separate room, and the Facilitator goes back and forth between the rooms to discuss and create offers until an agreement is reached. If someone is represented by an attorney, the attorney also attends the facilitation. This arrangement offers the benefits of mediation by coming to an agreement outside of the courtroom, while also offering a buffer between parties who may find it difficult to discuss the matter face-to-face.