Part 6 of our 10 part series
Mediation and litigation are not mutually exclusive. In other words, if the parties to a divorce are engaged in mediation and decide they must go to court concerning a particular issue or issues, they are not required to “drop out” of mediation in order to litigate. Likewise, if a couple litigating their divorce decides to mediate their unresolved issues, they may begin divorce mediation at any time “mid-matter.”
If one or both parties are represented by an attorney or consulting with an attorney, they may invite their attorneys to join the mediation session. Attorneys present during a session are encouraged to offer advice to their clients as the parties work on resolving their issues. Oftentimes the presence of counsel proves to expedite discussions leading to resolution of complex issues. Some parties choose to attend the session by themselves and speak to their attorney afterward for advice concerning proposals exchanged during the session.
The flexible, always available nature of divorce mediation allows for numerous permutations of how a session is conducted and when during the divorce process the parties may begin:
|1. Neither party has filed||Neither party represented by attorney (or using a consulting attorney)
||Start mediation before filing||No attorney(s) present at sessions|
|2. One or both parties have filed||Neither party represented by attorney (or using a consulting attorney)||Start mediation after filing||No attorney(s) present at sessions|
|3. Neither party has filed||One of both parties represented by attorney (or using a consulting attorney)||Start mediation before filing||One or both attorneys present at sessions OR no attorneys present|
|4. Both parties have filed||One or both parties represented by attorney (or using a consulting attorney)||Start mediation after having appeared in court 1 or more times||One or both attorneys present at sessions OR no attorneys present|
Mediation is ALWAYS available to parties in divorce, regardless of where they are in the process or how long they have been working on their finalizing their matter. Mediation as a divorce option never goes away.