22 Jul 6 Benefits of Family Law Mediation in Washington State
Taking a family dispute to court can be costly, painful, and profoundly uncomfortable. After all, court proceedings are public proceedings, unless there is a compelling reason for the court to seal the papers and restrict access to spectators. Thankfully, there are alternatives. Consider these six benefits of family law mediation in Washington State.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party works to create a settlement or agreement that is acceptable to both parties in a divorce. A clergyperson, retired lawyer or judge, or someone who has had training and earned a certificate in mediation can facilitate this alternative dispute resolution process.
The mediator usually asks for areas where parties agree and where they are unable to come to a mutual agreement.. The mediator also meets with each party separately to get a sense of what that person genuinely wants in an agreement to end the dispute. Then, the mediator shuttles between the parties until each side is satisfied with the terms of a proposed resolution.
The mediator cannot decide for the parties. The parties must decide on their own or with advice of their lawyers whether to accept the proposed agreements from the other party.. Once agreed upon, the agreement is submitted to the court for approval as an agreed upon issue. Parties may have only or two items in the entirety of a matter they need a little help working through and a mediator is the one to help!.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Mediation?
Technically, no, you do not need a lawyer to go through mediation. Some mediators will not even conduct mediation with lawyers present. Mediators have training in applicable law, but they cannot provide legal advice. Therefore, if there is a significant imbalance between the divorcing couple in income, assets, debts, or division of labor in childrearing, it is important to at least consult an experienced attorney. Residents of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland, WA, and the surrounding areas can consult LaCoste Family Law. Or attorney practices family law in the Tri-Cities, WA, area.
Are Divorcing Couples Required To Use Mediation?
Some counties in Washington State require mediation prior to a settlement conference or a trial.. If one partner does not want to cooperate, the court will still require at attempt at mediation. Counties that do not require mediation still encourage it, as it has many benefits not just for the couple but for the courts. Mediation avoids further clogging a court system that a large backlog of cases delayed by COVID-19 safety measures has already burdened.
Six Benefits of Mediation for Divorcing Couples
Mediation can be the better choice for couples that know what they want and that can be reasonable about compromising on division of property, spousal and child support, and child custody. But it may not be a good idea when one partner is at a significant disadvantage in assets, job prospects, or health. At the very least, each partner should consult with their own divorce attorney prior to entering a mediation process.
Benefit One: It Costs Less
Mediation usually costs less than paying an hourly rate to a lawyer plus court filing and fees. You will also save on witness fees from professionals such as psychologists, accountants, and appraisers. Couples usually split the cost of mediation, which can be up to 60 percent less than the cost of paying an attorney for every court appearance and for all the time they put into drafting motions and other court filings.
Benefit Two: It Is Private
By Washington State law, mediation proceedings themselves are confidential and done out of the court room. However, just as a final divorce degree becomes public record, a mediated settlement becomes a legal agreement and is part of the terms of the divorce, The divorce degree will reference the agreement and the date it was made. As with any other forms of a public nature, the mediated agreement becomes part of the file.
Benefit Three: Control Over the Outcome
A divorce settlement procured through a court proceeding is in the hands of the judge. The court can accept your proposed terms, but it could also impose its own or choose your spouse’s proposed solutions to disputes over yours.
In mediation, you and your partner have control over the terms of your divorce agreement, which requires both of you to agree to all its terms. Together, with the help of the mediator, you will set the terms of property and asset division, child custody and visitation, child support, and spousal support if you agree to it.
Benefit Four: Scheduling
In a mediation proceeding, you and your partner can set your own schedule of meetings with the mediator. Mediators are far more flexible in scheduling meetings than the courts. In a court proceeding, you or your lawyer must show up when the court tells you to show up. It does not matter if it is your child’s birthday or in the middle of your long-awaited vacation. And often, when you show up at the appointed time, the court will be running behind, and you may even have to wait the entire day with no appearance at all, necessitating a return visit at a time that the court determines.
Benefit Five: Speed
Mediation moves much more quickly than the courts. It is your proceeding, and an individual mediator handles far fewer divorce matters than the courts. A divorce trial is subject to continuances, in which the court decides there is not enough time to resolve an issue and moves a decision on a motion or a ruling on a proposed settlement to a future date. By contrast, a mediation proceeds at the pace that you, your mediator, and your spouse determine.
Benefit Six: Practice Coparenting
Mediation gives you a preview to how you and your spouse will resolve issues in the future including your children’s education, health care, school breaks and vacations, and recreational activities. You will not be burdened with resentments about a court battle and how the court ruled in your spouse’s favor on issues you hoped would go your way.
The benefits of family law mediation may outweigh pursuing court proceedings for many divorcing couples in the state of Washington. Contact LaCoste Family Law for a consultation about divorce mediation today.