April 2, 2014
Mediation provides the parties in a family law matter the opportunity to resolve their outstanding issues in a confidential setting with a neutral mediator. A successful mediation eliminates the need to go through a trial, saving the parties money and worry.
In D.C. Superior Court, mediation is mandatory through the Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division. The parties first perform an intake, and then have sessions with the mediator in an attempt to resolve some or all of the issues in the case. This service is provided free of charge to cases in D.C. Superior Court.
Alternatively, in D.C., the judge can order Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) if both parties are represented by attorneys. In ADR, the parties and their attorneys sit down with the facilitator and try to come to an agreement. The cost of ADR is split equally between the parties.
In Virginia, if the case is a divorce case in Circuit Court, the court may refer the parties to a free mediation orientation session. After the orientation, the parties may choose from a list of Circuit Court mediators to continue the mediation. The Circuit Court mediation is paid for by the parties. If the case is a custody case in District Court, then the parties are eligible for free mediation.
Benefits of Mediation
There are many benefits to pursuing mediation in domestic relations cases. First of all, mediation can save time and money. Mediation can be scheduled according to the parties’ availability, and will save the parties the expense of going to trial. During mediation, the parties communicate more informally and at their own pace. If the case is scheduled for trial, the process could go on for months or even years.
Second, the mediator is a trained neutral party who has no interest in the outcome of the case. The mediator is experienced in minimizing conflict, and finding creative solutions to the various issues. Parties often find mediation a calm environment with the mediator taking everyone’s opinions into account.
Third, mediation is a confidential process that takes place in an office. Parties do not have to go through numerous court hearings, airing their history in front of strangers in the court room. In the court room, there is no privacy. In mediation, any notes taken by the mediator or facilitator are discarded, and personal details do not become part of the public record.
Fourth, mediation allows the parties to have control over the resolution. At mediation, parties can have a discussion and input about how to resolve the case. In a trial, the Judge decides all of the issues. The parties know the circumstances better than anyone else, and have the ability to come up with the best resolution for their family. The Judge is a stranger who doesn’t know your family, but is making major decisions for your family.
Mediation is a great tool to utilize if you have a family law case in the District of Columbia or Virginia. Khadilkar Law can assist you in resolving your case in a way that makes the most sense for your family.