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Mediation: Why Do I Have to Mediate?

Tonight's post on mediation was written by our Lawrenceville Family Law attorney, Wesley Wilson.

I recently received a phone call from a client. He was mad and frustrated. Mediation had been scheduled and he felt that was going to be a waste of time. Communication between he and his soon to be ex-wife had completely broken down, and he did not see the point of sitting across from her in a conference room when he saw no chance for resolution.

Mediation is a great tool to use in such an adversarial process. It brings both parties together to work towards a compromise that, theoretically, both can feel comfortable with.

Mediations occur in two forms. Parties and their attorneys remain in the same room, discussing matters with the mediator presiding over the meeting. As you can imagine, this method typically does not go over well as domestic matters can be very adversarial.

At the Gwinnett Administration and Justice Center, located here in Lawrenceville, most mediations are conducted by using a caucus. During a caucus, both parties are put in separate rooms with their legal counsel. The mediator begins in the plaintiff's room and moves back and forth between the rooms relaying messages and crafting a path to get both parties to an agreement.

Mediators are typically attorneys or former judges. They are a neutral party whose main objective is to try to get the parties to compromise. They point out things to parties that they might not be aware of, working with both Attorneys to help their clients better understand their situation. One of their biggest attributes is tempering unreasonable expectations, as some individuals need a third, neutral party to help them understand what they truly can expect as an outcome.

A couple things to remember when attending mediation. First, come with an open mind. Realize that the goal of mediation is to compromise. Second, temper expectations. The worst thing you can do is show up to mediation with unreal expectations. You will be wasting your time and everyone else's. Your level of expectation can be influenced by your attorney. It is their job to be up-front and honest with you regarding what you are entitled to during the divorce process. I make a concerted effort to be up-front with my clients. At times that means telling them something they may not want to hear regarding what they may or may not be entitled to. The third thing to remember is, have a bottom line. Go into mediation informed, knowing what you are and aren't willing to agree to. Mediation doesn't always work and there is a point where it does make sense to walk away from the mediation. Knowing how low you are willing to go helps the process.

Mediation is a great tool and should be embraced as an alternative to litigation. It lets you have a direct say in the outcome of your case. It saves you the stress and expense of your attorney preparing for a trial. Mediation should be embraced and looked at as a great opportunity to resolve your matter in the least stressful way possible.

Wesley Wilson

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