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MEDIATION AND SETTLEMENT

Divorce and Child Custody Mediation

Mediation is one of the most frequently used methods for negotiating a divorce and/or child custody settlement. In mediation, a neutral third party, called a “mediator,” will meet with you and your spouse to discuss and resolve the issues involved in your divorce or child custody matter. Unlike a judge, the mediator does not make any decisions for the parties; rather, the mediator serves as a facilitator to help the parties reach an agreement.

If you and your spouse are considering mediation, our experienced family law attorneys can either serve as the mediator, or attend the mediation as your attorney only. If you and your spouse choose not to hire your own respective attorneys, it is highly recommended that you have an experienced family law attorney serve as the mediator, rather than a non-attorney who does not fully understand the legal consequences of your agreement. Our attorneys will help you and your spouse reach a final agreement that will be considered fair and acceptable and legally enforceable now and in the future. 

Benefits of Mediation Versus Litigation

Anyone going through a divorce or child custody dispute should consider mediation as an alternative to litigation. The long list of benefits of mediation include: 

  • Mediation is generally much less expensive than litigation. 

  • Mediation often ends in global settlement of all issues involved in a divorce. 

  • Mediation is confidential and there is no transcript or public record of the evidence reviewed in mediation. 

  • Mediation allows you to arrive at a solution you agree is fair given your unique circumstances, rather than having a solution imposed on you by a judge who is bound to adhere to rigid and impersonal legal principles. 

  • You and your spouse may still hire your own lawyers and your lawyers may attend the mediation, if you wish. 

  • The mediation process often results in improved communication between the parties, which helps avoid future conflicts. This is particularly useful in cases involving children because the parties must continue to co-parent after the divorce is final. 

  • You and your spouse, not the court, are in control of the process. 

Settlement Agreements

Often, attorneys are able to settle cases without engaging a separate mediator. Regardless of whether you retain a mediator, both parties' attorneys should make a good faith effort to settle some or all issues involved in your case prior to filing a motion or setting the matter for trial. 

 

Family Law cases typically involve several issues such as child custody, child support, property division, spousal support, attorney fees, and more. If the parties agree on some, but not all, issues involved in their case, then there will be a hearing or trial on the unresolved issues only. If agreement is reached on all issues, then the attorneys will prepare a settlement agreement that will be submitted to the court and become part of the final judgment. Once the judge signs and enters the stipulated judgment, your divorce is now final (or in the event of a child custody case between unwed parents, you will have a final judgment establishing parentage, as well as child custody and child support orders). 

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The MacKay & Martin Advantage

During the process of negotiating settlement, it is important that you are informed of your rights and responsibilities in order to make informed settlement decisions.  Moreover, during the execution stage, it is crucial to be informed of the legal consequences of your agreement, as several terms will likely affect your future rights and responsibilities involving your children, finances, and property. The attorneys of MacKay & Martin, LLP regularly handle such agreements and are well versed in negotiating favorable settlement terms that protect our clients' interests.