Often times, when parties are involved in a dispute, an experienced, knowledgeable and impartial third party can help assist in resolving a solution that reflects the needs of all involved. This embodies the definition of mediation. Mediation allows participants to voice their opinion, concerns and simply to get things off their chest as well as hear the other party’s point of view. Mediation is more relaxed; therefore, less hostile than the standard litigation process. Before agreeing to mediation, you must remember that mediators will not give legal advice during the mediation and should not make legal conclusions about either party’s case. Kevin Hickey Law Partners extensive family law experience makes us knowledgeable and reliable mediators. You must also keep in mind that just because you are agreeing to the mediating process, you should always have your own attorney to consult with any decisions you make before signing a binding agreement.

One appeal to mediation is that is less formal and more relaxed than standard court proceedings. There is no set process, but the typical mediation process will look like this:

  • The mediator will introduce him or herself and then make comments about the rules and goals of mediation.
  • Each side is given the opportunity to tell his or her side without interruption from the other side.
  • At this point, the mediator may start a mutual discussion with both parties or may meet with each privately, going back and forth, working out each issue.
  • After the discussion process, the mediator will bring both parties together to jointly negotiate a resolution.
  • If a joint resolution is achieved, the mediator will then put the agreement in writing, advise each party to consult an attorney and ask to sign pending their lawyer’s agreement.
  • If a joint resolution cannot be reached, the mediator will summarize the items the parties did agree on (if any) and advise of rights going forward. At this point, both parties will go to their respective attorneys and move forward with standard litigation.

You often hear the term arbitration used in place of mediation, but there is a difference. The main difference is that arbitration is much like the court process as both parties present each side while the arbitrator hears the evidence and makes a binding decision. Mediation allows both parties to work together to a mutual agreement that is beneficial to both parties. Yes, they are both similar alternatives to traditional litigation as both have the same goal in mind—a fair resolution of the issues at hand. Both can be used in conjunction with litigation. When used in conjunction with litigation that means that both parties first tried to negotiate and it failed, so the case must move forward to trial. Both arbitration and mediation utilize an unbiased third party to oversee the process and in both cases, can be binding.

Is there any time you should not agree to mediation? Of course, you should always question whether it is the best option to achieve the outcome you desire. If you or your spouse have unreasonable demands or goals that are difficult to negotiate with, then mediation is not where you want to spend your time or money. Mediation only works when both parties can sit down together and come to a reasonable and fair solution for each side. You should follow your attorney’s advice because this may be your first divorce, but it may be your attorney’s 2,000th divorce. Let his or her experience and expertise work for you and guide you through the process that results in the outcome you desire. Do not automatically assume mediation will save you money if you and your spouse cannot stand to be in the same room together, much less come to mutual compromises. Your money will be better off spent hiring your own attorney and letting each party’s attorney work out the details.

Mediation has a high success rate when conducted properly. Both parties are able to come together to freely and confidentially present their position in front of a neutral third party. Many people are more satisfied with the outcome of mediation as they are in control of the final result and a part of the resolution. Let Kevin Hickey Law Partners mediate your case or give you legal advice before signing any documents if you are involved in a mediating case.

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(479) 434-2414 Fort Smith • (479) 802-6560 NWA

In the River Valley:
502 Garrison Avenue
Fort Smith, AR 72901
Phone: (479) 434-2414
Fax: (479) 434-2415

In Northwest Arkansas:
1750 S. Osage Springs Drive, Suite 210
Rogerse, AR 72758
Phone: (479) 802-6560
Fax: (479) 802-6561

Mon - Fri 8:30 - 5:00

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