There are many reasons to mediate to resolve a family conflict or to attempt mediation prior to filing papers in a court action. First and foremost, mediation does not pit parties against one another as adversaries. Whether parties are seeking a divorce, a change in child custody, or a viable solution to meeting daily needs of an elderly family member, mediation offers an opportunity for the people affected to work as a team, on the same side of the negotiating table, to address the challenges their family will face as they transition to a new way of being or living.
When parties file papers in a lawsuit, they effectively are removing themselves from the position of authority and asking a judge to decide their case for them. Mediation, in contrast, keeps the parties in control. It empowers parties to clarify their own values and priorities, reach agreement about these values and priorities whenever possible, and implement solutions that are based on those values. A good mediator will also help the parties expose and face the monsters in the closet, in an effort to ensure that solutions agreed upon are workable and sustainable.
Mediation also opens the door for a world of creative possibilities in addition to the standard solutions that could be ordered by a court. When you hear of divorced parents who are able to seamlessly parent their children, or of a family that has all come together to manage care for an elderly family member, or a church that has done a great job balancing the competing needs and interest of various interest groups within the congregation, it is likely that the positive relationship has been made possible by good conflict resolution mechanisms (as opposed to not having a conflict mechanism and then fighting in some positional, adversarial mode of conflict such as court).
A good mediator is a skilled professional, using conflict resolution skills and coaching the parties as they meet, to help neutralize the negative and awkward aspects of communicating during conflict and to build upon and emphasize the positive. In a real sense, the mediator acts like a bridge, helping the parties get through the swamp of conflict to reach authentic, sustainable agreement that everyone can live with.
Almost every conflict professional, even seasoned trial lawyers, will admit that voluntary agreements are usually better overall for every one, provided that all parties to the mediation are committed to principles of fairness.
To make an appointment to discuss your individual needs and circumstances, please fill out the contact form, below, or call for an appointment 803-414-0185.
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