More than one way exists to proceed with a divorce. With the exception of cases involving a Family Abuse Prevention Act restraining order, mediation can be used to resolve any family law case issue including, but not limited to, custody, parenting time, asset and debt division, spousal support (alimony), and other property issues.
Mediation is a dispute resolution process focused on bringing both sides to agreement on some or all points of disagreement using a third-party, neutral, mediator. Mediators are often retired judges or experienced family law attorneys. The process of mediation often provides more autonomy to the parties of a divorce, giving them more control over the final results removing the decision-making authority from the judge and delegating it to the parties. This can be especially important in cases with minor children. The parents of the child(ren) often know what is best for their child’s welfare, and mediation can help them come to an agreement that best serves the whole family.
Mediation takes all forms ranging from informal mediation with the parties and a mediator sitting around a table discussing the issues to the parties being in separate rooms going item by item over a course of multiple days. The specifics of mediation vary by county within Oregon and a divorce attorney can help effectively you prepare for and work through the mediation process. Ultimately, the type and structure of mediation depends greatly on the parties and the case.
Some mediations are done with both parties in the same room, with or without lawyers. Other mediations takes place where the parties are in separate rooms, with or without lawyers and the mediator goes between each room separately. This later form of mediation is called “Shuttle-Mediation” and is the most common type for divorces. Often Shuttle-Mediation has both attorneys available to the parties in their separate respective rooms. The mediator goes from party to party in this case working to bring both sides to an agreement. The specifics of the mediation process are tailored to suit the needs of both parties.
Impartiality is key to being a successful mediator. Additionally, confidentiality must be kept. Most information shared in mediation is confidential with certain exceptions such as information regarding someone being in imminent danger or abuse of a minor or elder. Many of the mediators have a background in law or mental-health services and understand the complexity of a divorce and the items that may arise. Overall, an expert mediator can be the difference between a bitter prolonged court battle or a relatively smooth divorce. Your attorney will know of mediators that they can personally recommend to take part in your process.
Counties differ on when they require or permit waiving of mediation. However, at the outset, all Oregon counties coincide, whether it is Washington County, Multnomah County, Clackamas County, or Columbia County, in that parties are required to attempt some form of alternative dispute resolution process, often mediation, prior to being allowed to go to trial.
Deciding to use mediation in your divorce is an important decision. The costs can also vary widely. Mediation may be free in some counties for specific issues while extended private mediation costs can quickly approach undesirable levels. If you are looking for an attorney to assist with resolving your divorce through mediation, contact the family law attorneys at Kroll & Johnson, PC.