In their mind’s eye, many people think that mediation resembles the opening scene from the movie “Wedding Crashers”. However, although this scene is very funny, it is very far from the truth.
A mediator typically is a well-respected attorney, who has been practicing family law for many years. Many mediators are former judges. Most are very accomplished in their own right, and have additional training as a mediator. You likely will never see the other side at all during the mediation. You and I will be in one room, and the other party and his/her attorney will be in another room.
The mediator will go back and forth between the two rooms with proposals. If you need to have a private conversation with me that you do not want the mediator to hear, simply say so, and the mediator will step out. Occasionally the mediator will ask to speak with just the attorneys on a legal issue.
Each mediator has his or her own style, so this will vary. However, everyone at the mediation has one goal in mind: settle the case. Once an agreement is reached, the mediator will type up a “Mediated Settlement Agreement”, and all parties will sign.
The Mediated Settlement Agreement becomes effective immediately, and will be filed with the Court. Once the mediation is concluded, on the attorneys will be required to draft a more comprehensive Final Order that includes all the requisite legalese the Courts require, and once that Order is entered, the case will be concluded.
Mediation is becoming more and more common, and many courts are now requiring the parties attend mediation before allowing a hearing. In my experience, most mediations are successful, and I’ve had many clients in very contentious cases be both shocked and relieved at the fact that they no longer have to litigate.