Mediation is a cooperative problem-solving method.
A Mediator is a neutral, trained professional who assists the parties in an attempt to find resolution to existing conflicts through communication and negotiation.
A divorce or separation of a family brings about many emotional and physical changes for a family, and many issues arise including: parental decision making; residential placement of the children; parenting time; in addition to many financial issues including division of property; and family support. The way the family deals with these issues can have a significant impact on the family’s adjustment to the divorce or separation.
Instead of turning over the decision making to the courts, the process of mediation provides an opportunity for family members to resolve conflicts during and after separation, as active participants in the process. Through mediation, it is possible to reach agreements that balance the interests of the family members, while addressing the issues of anger, fear, disappointment and hurt.
Lake County Local Court Rules require the parties in every family case where parenting issues are unresolved, to participate in mediation, see Lake County Local Court Rule 4-3.19. There is an exception to the mandatory mediation rule if the court finds an “impediment to mediation” exists. An impediment may include, but is not limited to: domestic violence or intimidation; substance abuse; child abuse; mental health; a cognitive impairment; or any other circumstance that prevents a party from negotiating safely, competently, and in good faith.
In some cases, the court may refer the parties to meet with a volunteer mediator in the courthouse. Those services are available free of charge, but are limited in time, and scope, and typically only available on a one-time basis, so it is critically important that the parties participate in a meaningful way and make every effort toward settlement.
The court may also refer the parties to participate in mediation outside the courthouse. The referral will be to a mediator on the court-approved mediator list, and the parties will be responsible for payment of the fees directly to the mediator. Click here to view the current list of court-approved mediators.
In mediation, the disputing parties meet together with a trained mediator who guides the communication process so that everyone has a chance to be heard. Issues are addressed one at a time, and a variety of solutions are explored to assist in reaching the best possible solution for the family. In the end, the parties are exclusively in control of whether an agreement is reached.
The cooperation and communication skills the parties learn thorough the mediation process can carry over to assist the parties with future planning, and in establishing a foundation for cooperative relationships going forward.
In the event the parties are unable to reach agreement through participation in mediation, the unresolved issues will be returned to the court for hearing and determination.