From Conflict To Cooperation
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a cooperative problem-solving process available to assist parents in resolving issues concerning their children through mutual agreement.
How Does Mediation Work?
With the assistance of a trained neutral party, the participants work to clearly identify the issues in dispute, negotiate, and resolve in a fair way the parenting issues raised by divorce. Participants need not be or feel friendly toward each other, but should be willing to work together to find solutions that will be fair and meet the needs of all family members. Parties are helped to understand the needs of children, reach agreements in their best interest, and develop a cooperative co-parenting relationship. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties, but helps participants resolve misunderstandings and communicate more clearly and openly with each other. Hostile feelings are reduced so individuals can better adjust to changing situations and plan for the future.
Why Try Mediation?
Divorce creates changes for families. Mediation is a process by which the unique needs of couples and families who are in the process of separation and divorce can be addressed. Mediation is designed to preserve and protect the family unit and minimize trauma when the family unit is fragmented and troubled.
For most people, conflict is frightening and stressful. Conflict can, however, result in the productive airing of differences and can lead to creative solutions that address the changing needs of all family members. Even in the face of anger, fear, and hurt, it is possible for people to negotiate an agreement that balances the interests of each family member and benefits everyone in the long run. Mediation assists individuals in gaining the skills necessary for negotiating fairly when deciding parental rights and responsibilities concerning their children, with the best interests of the children in mind.
What Is The Mediator's Role?
A mediator is a neutral person who helps the parties become informed about each other’s interests, while assisting the parties in developing an agreement that is voluntary and designed to meet the goals and serve the interests of everyone involved. The mediator is a person who has been trained to help participants identify issues, create an orderly exploration of interests, facilitate problem solving, and to keep negotiation on track.
Is An Attorney Mandatory?
Each party is urged to seek legal counsel throughout the mediation process. While decisions reached in mediation are made by the parties, they should be informed decisions. The mediator does not give legal advice to either party.
How Long Does It Take?
Mediation varies in length depending on the complexity of the issues and the readiness of the parties to mediate. The session is approximately two hours long, and the average mediation involves two to three sessions.
Are There Benefits Of Mediation?
Many reasons are cited to support the growth of mediation as a voluntary option for divorcing couples seeking resolution of their disputes.
Mediation . . .
Protects family relationships, helping individuals establish a foundation for co-parenting.
Focuses on the present and future, helping individuals let go of their past and direct their energies toward independent futures.
Avoids the polarizing tendencies of the adversary system, resulting in agreements to which people are committed, and therefore lessens post-divorce litigation.
Is time limited, thereby helping to reduce uncertainty for the family, and minimize confusion and delay for children.
Allows for more control over the costs of the process. For many people the cost of obtaining a settlement through the adversary system is high, both financially and emotionally.
Are Agreements Reached In Mediation Legally Binding?
The mediator is not authorized to bind the parties to an agreement. Mediation is, however, a good faith negotiation, and in the event the parties are able to resolve their differences, an agreement will be drafted by the mediator and forwarded to the parties and their attorneys. When the Judge signs an order or judgment entry, the agreement becomes legally binding.
What If An Agreement Is Not Reached?
The mediation process may not resolve all issues, but even partial agreements can help parties narrow the issues and limit the time and expense of litigation. Any issues that cannot be resolved completely in mediation can be returned to the Court for resolution.
Office Of Mediation
Lake County Domestic Relations Court
Lake County Courthouse
47 North Park Place
P.O. Box 490
Painesville, OH 44077
Phone: (440) 350-2708
Facsimile: (440) 350-2717
Marie L. Umholtz, Director