Divorces have a reputation for generating bitter fights over such issues as child custody and property division, but they don’t necessarily have to be that way. One option that often reduces the grief and legal expenses associated with divorce is hiring a trained family law mediator. At The Henry Law Firm, P.A. in Overland Park, we help our Kansas clients prepare for and benefit from this method of alternative dispute resolution. Mr. Steve Henry is a Kansas Supreme Court approved Domestic Mediator.
Mediation is a process by which the parties to a legal dispute work with a neutral third party, called a mediator, to help them try to settle points of disagreement. During the mediation process, the mediator will typically learn each party’s position on the dispute, discuss the legal merits of each side’s case and guide the parties through negotiations. Mediators are neutral and don’t tell the parties how to settle. If the mediation is successful, the parties will emerge with a written agreement addressing key settlement terms. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the parties retain the option to pursue the dispute in court. However, even if mediation is unsuccessful at first, the parties can return to mediation at a later stage.
If you and your spouse want to avoid a drawn-out divorce and are amenable to negotiating a settlement, divorce mediation may be a good way to achieve your aims. The factors that can increase the likelihood that mediation will be successful include:
On the other hand, if a couple has a history of acrimony or distrust, or the parties are too far apart on their demands, mediation might not be the right option. In those circumstances, it might be necessary for the divorcing spouses to fight in court to resolve disputed issues. On the other hand, the mere fact that spouses choose to fight does not preclude them from turning to mediation later in the divorce proceeding.
We understand that you might have a few questions for us before you decide whether to engage in divorce mediation, such as:
Can mediation settle custody or child support issues?
As parents must work together going forward, it is often wise to pursue consensus on custody, a parenting time schedule and child support terms through mediation. However, the judge does have the authority to overrule the parents’ agreement based on what he or she believes to be in the child’s best interests.
What should I look for in a mediator?
The mediator should be trained and experienced in mediation and knowledgeable about Kansas family law. In addition, a domestic mediator should be on the list of approved Kansas mediators with the Kansas Supreme Court.
How much does the mediator cost?
It depends on the mediator. When evaluating costs, it is worthwhile to remember that a skillful mediator can sharply reduce your attorney’s fees and other legal expenses by leading you and your spouse to a prompt agreement.
We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you might have about mediation.
At The Henry Law Firm, P.A. in Overland Park, our experienced Kansas family law mediators seek to resolve divorce terms relatively quickly and amicably. Call us at 913-381-5020 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.