Are you currently fighting with a spouse or family member over child custody issues or a divorce settlement? Family law is probably one of the most contentious areas of legal practices. But with pre suit mediation, you may be able to avoid a lawsuit. It’s a good alternative for those who are willing to try working together.
What is Pre-Suit Mediation?
Pre-suit mediation occurs before someone files a lawsuit, or if the lawsuit has been filed, the mediation takes place at any time during the lawsuit process. Mediation is a face-to-face series of meetings designed to find resolutions to important family issues.
These disputes can be between spouses, or between other family members. For example, grandparents are seeking custody of grandchildren after the death of the children’s mother, who was their daughter. For family law disputes, there are family mediators.
The mediator is a trained professional, a neutral third party who facilitates discussions of the issues in dispute and helps the parties to explore all options. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties. Instead, the mediator helps them to reach agreements that are best for their family.
The Advantages of Using Mediation
The main benefits of mediation are that it avoids costly legal fees and time consuming court procedures. With mediation, the parties discuss their concerns and issues, and try to reach solutions together. Although it may not be possible to resolve all the issues, with most pre-suit mediation the parties do resolve some issues and reach agreements that work for all members of the family. At the very least, pre-suit mediation helps both parties to be heard and to understand the other person’s position.
Other benefits of pre suit mediation include the following:
- Faster process, so faster results
- Lower fees than civil lawsuit
- All parties are able to express views and opinions
- Reduces conflict and emotional upheaval
- Parties can negotiate
- No judge or jury making final decisions
- More informal than court
- Privacy – details do not become public record
The Role of Your Lawyer
Although mediators can be lawyers or non-lawyers, if you hire a mediation lawyer he or she will be an impartial third party. However, you do need a lawyer acting solely on your behalf. These lawyers usually don’t attend family mediation meetings, but are important as legal counsel. Your lawyer will advise you of your rights during the mediation process.
What to Expect with Mediation
Each mediator works differently, but usually mediation sessions last from two to three hours, and start with the mediator explaining what mediation is and the role of the mediator. Each party makes a brief introduction that includes the issues to be discussed. The mediator usually asks questions to help both parties reach agreements on important issues. If pre suit mediation cannot resolve all or most of the issues, the next step is litigation.
Do You Need an Attorney?
Although many pre-suit mediations don’t involve lawyers, it’s a good idea to have a lawyer represent you to ensure that your rights are protected. If mediation doesn’t resolve all the disputes, you then face a legal battle, necessitating an experienced family law attorney on your side. Call Carolan Family Law Firm, PA today at (305) 358-2330 or schedule a consultation online.