By: Patti A Velasquez, Mediator
Mediation is nowhere more needed nor more effective than in the family law arena. Especially in cases involving children, prolonged litigation exhausts financial and emotional resources of the family and can create wounds that make on-going relationships more difficult. In auto negligence cases, parties literally meet "by accident." The chances of another encounter after the case is over are miniscule. In contrast, divorced parents are inevitably going to meet again and again so long as they have children in common.
So why is mediation so critical in family law cases? First, the Courts require mediation before you can go to a temporary relief hearing or trial in every case. Secondly, resolution of cases at mediation saves time and money which can be used for the family's needs and not be expended on attorney's fees and costs.
More importantly, mediation is where families can create solutions that fit their specific needs that are not available in the courtroom. Family law is, in part, about law, but it is also about relationships, finances, history, parenting, children's needs, emotions, etc. Judges and magistrates are educated in the law which offers a limited numbers of outcomes based on legal principles. As the old adage states, if the only tool in your tool box is a hammer, you will approach every problem as if it were a nail. And that is simply not so in the family law field. Legal issues are only a part of the family's problems, and other needs should be addressed.
Mediation allows the parties, assisted by counsel or not, to craft solutions to fit their unique circumstances which addresses all of their concerns, not only the legal issues. Further, since we were teenagers, we have not had adults tell us how to run our lives on a regular basis, and we resented it then. By settling a case at mediation, parties have the opportunity to determine for themselves how to go forward with their lives as divorced parents, rather than turn their lives, and that of their children, over to strangers in black robes who will get only a glimpse of the parties and their lives, and who will probably never even meet the children whose fates they will determine. And in our experience, the rate of compliance is much greater when parties decide the rules of the game for themselves.
The best way to mediate a case is with a full-time professional mediator. Our family mediators have received extensive training and are certified by the Florida Supreme Court as family mediators. If an attorney practices mediation exclusively, it avoids having to switch professional roles regularly. Many family law lawyers mediate cases occasionally and some do it very effectively. However, such attorneys have to switch hats from warrior to peace-maker. Our family mediators do not practice as divorce attorneys, and are professional peace-makers who work exclusively on improving their mediation skills. Moreover, the attorneys who utilize Matrix Mediation do not have to wonder if sharing their strategies with a mediator who will some day be their opposing counsel will be a disadvantage later. Using a full-time mediator avoids those problems.
Matrix Mediation is dedicated to offering the finest service to the families in our communities. Our family mediators have the legal, judicial. and life experiences to enable them to assist families through this difficult transition. We look forward to the opportunity to assist parties and their attorneys bring peace back into their lives.