Mediation is a cooperative problem-solving method. A mediator is a neutral, trained professional who assists the parties in an attempt to find a resolution to existing conflicts through communication and negotiation.
A divorce or separation of a family brings about many emotional and physical changes for a family. Issues may arise including parental decision making, residential placement of the children, parenting time, and financial issues including division of property and family support. The way the family deals with these issues can have a significant impact on the family’s adjustment to the divorce or separation.
The process of mediation provides an opportunity for family members to act as active participants in the process, working to resolve conflicts during and after separation. Through mediation, it is possible to reach agreements that balance the interests of the family members while addressing the issues of anger, fear, disappointment, and hurt. Ultimately, it is the party's choice whether the conflict can be resolved during mediation or not.
Lake County Local Court Rules require the parties in every family case where parenting issues are unresolved to participate in mediation, per rule 4-3.19. There is an exception to the mandatory mediation rule if the court finds an “impediment to mediation” exists. An impediment may include but is not limited to domestic violence or intimidation, substance abuse, child abuse, mental health, a cognitive impairment, or any other circumstance that prevents a party from negotiating safely, competently, and in good faith.
In some cases, the court may refer the parties to meet with a volunteer mediator in the courthouse. Those services are available free of charge, but are limited in time and scope, and they are typically only available on a one-time basis. So, it is critically important that the parties participate in a meaningful way and make every effort toward settlement.
The court may also refer the parties to participate in mediation outside the courthouse. The referred mediator will be on the court-approved mediator list, and the parties will be responsible for payment of the fees directly to the mediator. Click the link to view the current list of court-approved mediators.
The cooperation and communication skills that the parties learn through the mediation process can carry over to future planning and in establishing a foundation for cooperative relationships going forward. In the event that the parties are unable to reach agreement through participation in mediation, the unresolved issues will be returned to the court for hearing and determination.