Mediation has been used in British Columbia to settle legal disputes for over 20 years. When a judge is called upon to decide these matters, both parties must live with the decision. Mediation allows all parties to remain involved until a consensus is reached. When mediation is entered, an independent third party is appointed to help the disputing parties negotiate. However, unlike a judge, this mediator has no authority to decide matters.
Mediation may be a worthwhile approach for a couple going through a divorce. Emotions can run high during negotiations over matters such as property division, and the detached viewpoint of an independent mediator could allow spouses to find common ground where none seemed possible.
A divorcing couple may also consider mediation when a dispute arises over child custody or visitation. The combative atmosphere of a courtroom could extinguish any remaining chances of an agreement being reached, and a protracted custody battle may cause the child long-lasting emotional damage. While court proceedings generally concentrate only on the legal rights of the parties involved, mediation encourages a broader discussion of needs and interests. Resolving custody and visitation disputes through mediation may also allow parents to have an amicable relationship once these matters are settled, which could be of great value to the child.
Going through a divorce is rarely easy, and the emotional pressure sometimes leads to questionable decisions being made. A lawyer with experience of divorce cases will likely understand the strain that spouses are feeling, and they may be able to suggest strategies, such as mediation, that allow the atmosphere to become less contentious and more productive. However, if this approach does not lead to an agreement, a lawyer could advocate vigorously in court on behalf of their client.
Source: British Columbia, “Family Mediation“, October 30, 2014
Laughlin & Company Lawyers Mediators
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