In family mediation, a trained neutral mediator assists individuals who are having difficulties in their relationships by helping them to talk through their concerns in a private and confidential setting. The goal is to help them find ways to resolve their problems without a court decision being imposed on them.
Family members may be able to reach agreements that address their needs and those of their children. This can help them to move on from the conflict and begin a new chapter in their lives. The goals of family mediation are to improve communication and reduce acrimony, hostility and conflict. It is also to provide an opportunity for people to resolve their differences in a less costly and more timely manner than the traditional court process.
In mediation, the parties are responsible for deciding what issues they want to discuss and the possible solutions. Generally the discussions will include legal matters such as parenting plans, child support and alimony. Non-legal matters such as finances, division of assets, property, elder care and other issues are also often part of the discussion. These discussions are typically conducted in a series of sessions with the mediator and both parties. The mediator facilitates the discussions and keeps them productive and safe.
The negotiated agreement will need to be reviewed and approved by a judge to make it legally binding. However, a mediated agreement is more flexible than a decision imposed by a judge and can be amended as circumstances change over time. family mediation