In divorce mediation, a neutral third party meets with the divorcing spouses and tries to help them reach an agreement about all of the different issues involved in their divorce. The spouses typically meet with the neutral third party, or mediator, at an agreed-upon time and place in order to work out any disputed issues. A mediator does not make any decisions for the spouses if they cannot agree. The only role of a mediator is to facilitate discussion between parties and help them work toward an agreement. If the spouses cannot reach an agreement on some or all issues, then they must go another route to resolve their divorce, whether it is through additional negotiations or by proceeding to trial.
Anyone can serve as a mediator under Washington law; there are no requirements that a mediator be certified or paid for his or her services. In some cases, spouses may prefer to use a religious leader, such as a minister or pastor. The best mediators, however, are often professionals with strong backgrounds in divorce and family law, such as retired judges or former lawyers.
Although mediation is not required by Washington law, many counties in the state have adopted local rules that require mediation in most family law cases. However, the court will waive the mediation requirement in some circumstances. The most common reason to waive mediation is a history of domestic violence between the parties. Since the relationship between the abuser and victim tends to be one of control, the parties typically do not see themselves as equal, which can make mediation difficult, if not impossible.
Mediation can be a valuable tool to resolve divorce cases, particularly when the spouses are willing to communicate and want to work toward a fair resolution. While the mediation process may take several hours, it can be worth it in terms of both time and money if the case can be resolved without going to trial. When spouses refuse to communicate or budge on major issues, however, mediation is not likely to be successful. Mediation is most effective when both spouses keep an open mind and are able to compromise on various matters.
The Walla Walla divorce attorneys at Pacific Northwest Family Law know how to handle all aspects of Washington divorce and family law cases. Whether we able to resolve your case through alternative dispute resolution or must proceed to trial, we are here to help and give you the advice that you need. Contact our office by e-mailing us at [email protected] or call us at 1-360-926-9112 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced divorce lawyers today.