Settling Divorce And Custody Issues Through Mediation

There are two primary roads to fostering settlement in divorce. They are negotiation and mediation. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. The success of all methods relies upon knowledge of the facts of the case and the personalities involved. The significant facts in a divorce case include information regarding income, and the ownership and value of assets including real property, personal property, bank accounts, investments, retirement, businesses, life insurance and liabilities. Liabilities include secured and unsecured debt.

Significant facts concerning children of the relationship are:

  1. The children's age
  2. Their physical and mental health: whether they have health insurance and who will be responsible for unreimbursed/uninsured medical expense including percentages of responsibility
  3. The physical and mental health of the parents: whether there is any substance abuse
  4. Special needs of the children

Recently, mediation has captured the public's attention. Mediation is an alternate dispute resolution technique that focuses on getting to a mutually satisfactory end result through the guidance and intervention of a neutral moderator. The positive parts of mediation are that it is more cost-effective and quicker than litigation. An additional advantage is that it is confidential and there is no written record of the discussions that ensue in an effort to come to an agreement. Most importantly, mediation allows the parties to craft their own divorce based upon their knowledge of their specific family dynamics.

Success depends largely on the open-mindedness and willingness of the parties to cooperate and the neutrality and patience of the mediator. Mediation does not work where there is a physically or verbally abusive relationship or a power imbalance. Some mediators favor having a consulting attorney as a mediator who is not charged with advising the parties as to their specific rights and responsibilities under the law.

Mediation can be utilized at any stage of the divorce process. It can even be used to avoid divorce if that is what both parties desire in which case it is called discernment counseling. It can be used to resolve specific areas of a divorce such as custody or parental access. However, it is important to note that the court will not approve a mediated agreement that is not in the best interest of the minor child. For example, it is not likely that the court will approve an agreement for shared custody in which a very young child is bounced back and forth between the parents without a structured access schedule.

How To Learn More Regarding Family Law Mediation

For additional information or to set up an appointment to meet with a family law lawyer, contact the law firm of Verna B. Lilburn by calling 203-309-0717. Our office is located in New Haven, Connecticut, but we also provide representation for residents in Hamden and across south central Connecticut.