Springfield Mediation Attorney
When matters in a divorce such as child custody, spousal support, or the division of property are contested, the parties often find themselves litigating these issues in court. The result is an outcome determined by the judge and imposed on both parties, whether they like it or not. Frequently one party gets a more favorable ruling than the other, given the adversarial, “win/lose” nature of trials.
Contested matters don’t have to be resolved in the courtroom, however. The parties can opt for mediation instead and resolve their issues themselves in a way that is satisfactory to both parties. Find out more about mediation below, and contact Springfield mediation attorneys Courtney & Mills to talk about using mediation for your divorce, child custody case, or other Missouri family law matter.
How Does Mediation Work?
The parties to a divorce can agree to use mediation to resolve the contested issues in their divorce. Mediation can also be court-ordered based on a motion by either party or by the court’s own motion. Many judicial circuits in Missouri have alternative dispute resolution procedures in place to handle child custody or visitation disputes or family access motions, including the 31st Judicial Circuit covering Springfield.
In a mediation, the parties sit down with a neutral third-party who is trained to facilitate communication and help parties in conflict resolve items in dispute. The mediator focuses the mediation on each party’s needs and interests and tries to find common ground, in contrast to litigation, where each party stakes out positions and tries to convince the judge to rule in their favor. The parties can be represented by their attorneys in the mediation to serve as their counselor, advisor or advocate as needed.
Once the issues are resolved, the parties or the mediator draw up and sign an agreement they can submit to the court. The judge can use this document as the basis for court orders issued in the divorce. If the parties don’t agree in mediation, they are still free to litigate the case in court. The mediation is a confidential proceeding, so parties don’t have to worry that what they say in mediation could be used against them later on in court.
Why Use Mediation?
Even though you might be ending your marriage relationship through divorce, if you have kids together, your relationship with your ex will continue in some fashion for the foreseeable future. You’ll need to work through issues like custody and support, and you’ll need to be in regular contact for custody exchanges or communication on parenting issues. Litigation can sometimes be damaging to the relationship between the parties. By working together in mediation, you set the stage for being able to communicate with your former spouse as you work together to raise your kids in a new way.
A mediated result is also more likely to meet the needs and interests of both parties. It can, therefore, be more practical and voluntarily followed by both parties, without the need of one party or the other to go back to court for enforcement of court orders. By taking an active role in the dispute resolution process, parties to a mediation are personally invested in seeing the outcome work.
Mediation offers other advantages as well. Mediation can be scheduled and completed much faster than litigation, shaving months off of the process to get a divorce finalized. Because it is faster, it is usually less expensive, as well. Another plus is that mediation is a private proceeding, as opposed to trials which take place in an open courtroom. If it’s important for you to keep the details of your divorce or custody dispute private, mediation can help.
Is Mediation for Everyone?
Most family law cases can benefit from mediation, and mediation might even be required in your custody or visitation dispute. To be successful, both parties should be willing to try mediation with an open mind and a desire to find a mutually beneficial solution. Sometimes, the personalities of the parties, the level of the conflict, or the complexity of the issues don’t lend themselves to a positive experience in mediation. Nevertheless, mediation is always worth at least considering as one option to resolving your family law matter, and it’s helpful to have an attorney who is experienced in all forms of dispute resolution, including negotiation, mediation and litigation.
Courtney & Mills Is Your Source for Family Law Mediation in Springfield
Firm partner Chad T. Courtney is a certified mediator who presently sits on the Board of Directors for the Missouri Association of Civil Mediators. With Courtney & Mills, you know you’ll have experienced mediators on your side who understand mediation and are committed to the process while protecting your best interests. To talk about mediation in your Springfield divorce, child custody case or other Missouri family law matter, call Courtney & Mills at 417-869-9888.