Divorce doesn’t have to be a knockdown, drag-out fight between spouses in court. Most people seek to end their marriage with as little conflict as possible. And while sensitive issues such as child custody and money may be cause contention, it is quite possible to resolve them for the mutual benefit of both spouses through mediation. At Altizer, McGraw and French PLLC in Tazewell, our divorce attorneys are experienced in Virginia’s mediation process and are ready to help you decide if it’s the right choice in your situation.
The goal of mediation is for the couple to reach an amicable settlement on all issues in a divorce, essentially making the divorce uncontested. Using mediation, the parties have control over decisions on critical issues like child custody, visitation, property division and alimony. Mediation takes place out of court in a private setting. The parties, along with their attorneys, attend mediation sessions that are led by a neutral third party — the mediator — who is trained in family dispute resolution. He or she helps the spouses resolve their differences by encouraging them to make informed, reasonable concessions. Typically a mediation involves between three and eight sessions of around two hours each. The end product is a settlement agreement incorporating all key terms, which is submitted to the court and made a part of the divorce judgment.
Mediation offers several advantages that make it an attractive alternative to litigation, including:
For all these reasons and more, our family lawyers believe in mediating divorce issues rather than litigating in many situations. There are certainly some couples for whom mediation doesn’t work, and in those cases we are always ready to protect our clients and their children through traditional divorce litigation. Our goal as attorneys is to use the approach that is in the best interests of our client.
Virginia’s public policy generally supports out-of-court settlements, including those in family law cases. As such, courts may order parties to participate in divorce mediation before resorting to a trial. Further, Virginia usually requires mediation in cases where custody or visitation is contested. However, the state also realizes that mediation is not suitable in every case. If there are allegations of domestic abuse or criminal conduct against a party, mandatory mediation will likely not take place.
Overall, mediation has proven to result in positive outcomes when parties are willing and able to participate in reasonable, civil discussions with each other and work to resolve issues in the spirit of compromise.
At Altizer, McGraw and French PLLC, our family law attorneys believe in helping clients resolve conflicts effectively and efficiently. Mediation is often a good way to do that. Please call 877-695-0258 or contact us online to set up an appointment with a Tazewell lawyer to see if mediation could be the right fit for you.