When to Get a Family Mediator?

Family mediation is a type of conflict resolution that involves an impartial third party. A family mediator can help people find resolutions for their problems and conflicts. A voluntary agreement developed with the help of a family mediator is oftentimes less adversarial than a court process. Here is some important information about when and why a family mediator might be required and how to choose the right kind of mediator.

Why Family Mediation Might be More Beneficial than Litigation
Traditional litigation can be expensive, stressful, time-consuming, and adversarial. Family mediation is designed to lessen all of those burdens. In fact, more people are likely to comply with mediated agreements than they are with litigated agreements.

How a Family Mediator Can Help
Family mediators can help individuals and families develop voluntary agreements and resolutions for a variety of domestic issues. For example, a family mediator might be required for post-divorce or child custody conflicts. Many family mediators can help families create voluntary agreements regarding child support, custody, parental rights and responsibilities, and visitation. Family mediators can also help people resolve conflicts about division of assets and debts, spousal support, and other post-divorce issues.

How to Determine if You Need a Family Mediator
Even in the midst of conflict, everyone involved must be ready for mediation and committed to the process; all parties must be prepared to trust each other and the mediator. On average, full cases can take between four and twelve hours to mediate, but more complicated issues or conflicts within the mediation process itself may require more time, and single or limited issues may take less time.

What a Family Mediator Can Do
At a time that works for all parties, the mediator allows each person to explain their side of the story. The mediator will limit interruptions and foul or disrespectful language. Then, the mediator will work with both parties as they discuss different ways to resolve the conflict. Once the parties reach an agreement, it is usually placed in writing and signed by all parties that are present.

What a Family Mediator Cannot Do
Family mediators are not judges. They do not decide who is right and who is wrong. They also do not make or impose decisions on people. Instead, family mediators help people develop and negotiate their own resolution to the conflict.

Family mediators can only assist in cases when all parties can participate consciously in the proceedings. In cases of psychological disorders, limited intellectual capacities, ongoing substance abuse, or other situations that affect rational decision-making, the mediator may be unable to help because all parties need to be able to participate fully in the process. Additionally, a family mediator cannot help in some cases of ongoing domestic violence that might interfere with the parties' full and fair participation in the mediation processes.

How to Choose a Family Mediator
Family mediators come from many different professional backgrounds. They can be attorneys, counselors, psychologists, social workers, members of the clergy, or accountants. Regardless of their professional backgrounds, however, all family mediators receive specialized training thought their state or county. If a lawyer is used as a family mediator, that lawyer cannot have represented either of the parties in the past. Many state and county governments provide lists of certified family mediators; check with your state or county's website for information.
 About the author:
This article was contributed by Sandy Wallace, aspiring lawyer and volunteer counseler. If you are looking for a Plato family lawyer, serving a number of cities in Texas, Sandy recommends the Hammerle Finley Law Firm.  

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