Family mediation is a process to help families resolve their own conflicts during separation and divorce. It helps parents to understand their children’s needs and reach agreements about parenting, property and finance. It can reduce hostile feelings and be far less stressful than a court trial.

In Family mediation, both parties discuss their issues in a confidential and private setting with a neutral third party called a mediator. Each person is encouraged to talk openly, listen to the other’s points of view, and consider options and alternatives. The mediator can also suggest creative solutions to the problems being discussed and help the parties reach their own mutually agreed upon resolution. The mediator may assist in reducing conflict by helping the parties focus on what is in their children’s best interests and may also recommend that either or both of the parties seek legal advice from a lawyer before reaching an agreement.

The parties can reach their own settlement in a shorter time than through a court trial. Mediated agreements are not enforceable by law, but must be approved by a judge in order to become legally binding. Once approved, a written settlement agreement will be sent to both the parties and their attorneys for review and final signatures. Agreements involving children will also be subject to ongoing judicial review.

Mediation can be conducted in different ways, depending on the personalities of the participants and the complexity of the issues involved. For example, if one or both of the participants are unable to sit in the same room together, mediators can offer a “shuttle” model in which the mediator moves back and forth between the two rooms.

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