Mediation in Family Law

A Great Option to Keep You Away From Litigation in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC Divorce and Domestic Relations

iStock_000019749137XSmallContested divorce in Northern Virginia or the District of Columbia can be a time-consuming, emotionally draining, and very expensive endeavor. Parties litigating a fault-based divorce usually go through months of trial preparation before a final hearing is held. Fault-based divorce in Virginia can be filed by a party for adultery, desertion, cruelty and constructive desertion, and felony conviction and confinement of one year or more. No-fault divorces, which are filed after an appropriate period of separation, can be just as difficult if property, custody, or visitation issues are not settled. Alternative dispute resolution, specifically mediation, can be a highly effective and non-confrontational way to get through your divorce.

 

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process through which two parties, who may or may not be represented by their own family law lawyers, have a third-party referred to as a “neutral” to help them resolve their case. Some courts require that parties go to (or at least make a good faith effort to try) mediation. Mediation does not work for everyone in a Northern Virginia or Washington, DC divorce or custody case. Both parties have to consent to, and be engaged in the process. The mediator is there to guide and make suggestions. Some mediators are more proactive than others. If your mediation is successful, you can wrap-up your case in less time and at a much lower cost than traditional litigation. Typically a Virginia or Washington, DC divorce, or any other family law matter successfully handled with a mediator, would complete mediation with a fully executed agreement between the parties, that can be presented to the court.

Who is the Mediator?

Mediators, or “neutrals”, are typically trained or properly qualified from experience handling divorces in Virginia and Washington, DC. Retired judges often serve as mediators and are very effective in not only moderating the negotiations, but also with informing the parties how they believe a court would handle their case if it were litigated. This can be very useful when a party is performing a cost/benefit analysis regarding the decision of whether or not the trial would be worth the time and expense.

Why Should I Mediate?

Many of the reasons to mediate mirror the benefits of settling your Northern Virginia or Washington, DC divorce. If a settlement is properly negotiated, it is rare for either of them to walk away from the deal feeling like they “won”. Compromise is part of a healthy negotiation and necessary for success. Mediation of your divorce, custody or other family law matter in Northern Virginia or Washington, DC is no exception. I often tell clients to think of it this way: you can come up with your own imperfect solution and have control over what it looks like; or, you can present evidence and testify to a judge for a week, and then be told how your life will be for the foreseeable future, if not permanently. Sometimes, parties are so far apart, and meditation is not possible.

Final Thoughts on Northern Virginia and Washington, DC Divorce and Family Law Mediation

Divorce litigation can be a very effective way to resolve problems when negotiations fail. However, mediation can be a cost-effective and less arduous way of solving your divorce or family law problems. It should be seriously considered in every Northern Virginia or Washington, DC divorce case. Everyone who is facing a contested divorce proceeding should at least understand that it is an option and how it works.

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