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How can an attorney help ensure an effective family mediation? P.2

Previously, we began looking at the topic of family mediation, and how an attorney can help make sure the process is as effective as possible. As we pointed out last time, one thing an experienced attorney will do to make sure the process is productive is to gather as much information as possible in the discovery process. This ensures that there is a sufficient factual basis on which to conduct negotiations.

Weigh the risks of pursuing mediation, trial (risk analysis)

Before pursuing mediation, it is also important to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of mediation. Mediation can certainly have advantages of litigation, including: cost savings; increased privacy; more control over who handles the case; and a greater ability to determine the outcome of the process. Mediation is not without potential risks, though. 

Among the risks of mediation is that of wasting time and money if the mediation fails or results in an unsatisfactory or unsustainable agreement, which is more likely when parties work with an unskilled mediator, when a party doesn’t have a sound plan for approaching negotiations, or when there is an unwillingness to negotiate in order to work out a solution outside court. This leads into a third area where an experienced attorney is important in mediation.

Approach mediation with a positive attitude and an openness to negotiating

A skilled attorney will also help a party to understand the mediation process and to bring an open mind to discussions. The specific style used by the mediator can make a difference in how the discussions proceed, but regardless of the style, an attitude of openness can help ensure the mediation has the best chance of succeeding. That being said, it is also important to think of one’s own interests in mediation, since a satisfactory agreement will not be reached if a party doesn’t advocate for him- or herself. A skilled advocate can help ensure a party’s interests are represented in any agreement reached.

This advice applies to mediation of any dispute, of course, not only family disputes.

Source: The Florida Bar Journal, “Binding Arbitration, Voluntary Trial Resolution, and Med-arb Proceedings in Family Law,” November 2012, Ned. I. Price, Volume 86, No.9. 

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