The Branch County Friend of the Court encourages parties to try to reach a resolution of their dispute without a trial, either on their own, or through mediation. Mediation helps parties find solutions to their conflict and can be effective in general civil, probate, or domestic relations/family conflicts.
What is mediation?
Mediation allows people to meet in a private setting where a neutral person (a mediator), helps them work out a solution to their problems. The most popular form of mediation is Family Mediation, especially when a family is going through a divorce but it can be used to resolve other issues too. The mediator is not a judge, and does not decide who is “right.” The parties themselves make the choices that lead to a mutually satisfactory settlement.
Why try mediation?
- It works. About 65% of all mediations end in agreement, even when other attempts to settle have failed.
- It’s affordable. You do not need to pay a filing fee for a Motion and/or hire an attorney to file a motion.
- It’s quick. If an agreement is reached, the Mediator will prepare a Consent Order reflecting your agreement. Often times, when parties file a Motion with the Court, the Court may order the parties to mediation anyway.
- It’s private. Almost everything disclosed during mediation is confidential and cannot be used in a lawsuit.
- It’s cooperative, not adversarial. Mediation provides a comfortable, safe and respectful setting for discussion. It is not combative as court cases can become.
- There’s nothing lost by trying!
How does mediation work?
Each party describes the dispute from his or her own point of view and offers possible solutions. The mediator helps the parties to focus on the real issues causing the problem, and then helps them to find a workable solution. When the parties arrive at an agreement, the agreement is reduced to a Court Order.
How do I begin the process?
If your matter is pre Judgment, ask your attorney about mediating your case. Your attorney can help you select a mediator. If your matter is post Judgment, you may file a request for mediation with the Friend of the Court. The Friend of the Court will then contact the other party to see if they will agree to mediation. If so, a meeting is scheduled. If not, then you will need to file a Motion with the Court.
Are there cases that should not be mediated?
While many problems can be resolved in mediation, you can discuss with your attorney or a mediator whether or not the issues in your case can be mediated. Cases involving on-going domestic violence should almost never be mediated.
How does mediation affect my legal rights?
Whether or not you reach an agreement in mediation, your legal rights remain intact. You should know your legal rights before attending mediation. Mediators do not offer legal advice, represent parties, or testify at any subsequent hearings that may result if you do not resolve your case in mediation. You are always free to retain the services of an attorney to assist you.
What if parties don’t speak English?
In many instances, bilingual translators or signers can be identified in cases where language presents a barrier to communication.
How to Find a Mediator
A list of mediators who meet training qualifications established by the State
Court Administrative Office can be obtained from the court. To obtain a copy of the list, please call the court and ask for the list of qualified mediators.