Separation and divorce typically bring enormous personal stress and emotional strife. Beyond the loss of their most important partnership, individuals may face financial instability, challenges with children, loss of assets, increasing debts, and insecurity. One of the best tools to help manage the divorce process is the use of alternative dispute resolution – mediation. Mediation is mandatory in the South Carolina Family Courts. One cannot request a final hearing in the Family Courts without showing to the Court that the couple has attended at least three (3) hours of mediation.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is mandatory because it works. Mediation is a form of dispute resolution in which a neutral third-party mediator brokers a settlement of the parties’ outstanding issues. Typically, in reaching a settlement, the mediator will have one spouse in one room with their attorney and the other spouse in a separate room with their attorney. The mediator will go back and forth between the rooms with settlement offers until a deal is reached. Working with an experienced Family Court mediator to reach a settlement means that the couple will not have to try their case before a Family Court judge. It saves them time and money. More importantly, it means that they reach a settlement that they have agreed upon and have avoided being subject to a Court ruling in which both may be disappointed. In other words, it gives the couple more control over the process.
Family Court mediation offers a range of benefits for those involved:
Reduce the Time to Resolve Your Case
Any outstanding issues (other than the issue of divorce itself) can be mediated. In some cases, an early mediation can resolve a case many months before the couple could have expected their case to be tried. Also, investing their time and energy in a day long mediation may avoid their having to appear in a week-long trial, months down the road. Given the Court’s backlog of cases due to COVID 19, some Family Court judges are requiring couples to attend second mediations if the first one did not end in settlement. Mediation reduces the length of the settlement process which translates into a reduction in emotional strain and stress for those involved.
Save Time and Get Creative in the Litigation Process
Mediation saves time and time is money in Family Court litigation. It is far less expensive to pay your attorney to participate in a day-long mediation than to prepare for and appear in a Family Court trial.
Additionally, a certified Family Court Mediator can guide both parties in developing a unique agreement that is specific to their circumstances. Couples can be creative in developing custody and visitation plans, in working out their financial issues; and developing alimony and spousal support arrangements. Customizing your settlement agreement in a creative way that works for you is one of the chief benefits of hiring a Family Court mediator.
Reaching an agreement in mediation and avoiding a contentious trial, significantly reduces the stress of the divorce process. If the couple’s stress is reduced, the emotional impact on the children is likely to be reduced, too. There is tremendous relief in coming to an agreement and ending the litigation process.
Finding a Family Law Attorney in Charleston
Whether you are interested in mediation or representation in the Family Court obtaining sound legal advice is critical. If you are in search of an experienced family law attorney in Charleston, contact Bleecker Family Law today.
Owner, Anne Frances Bleecker is a certified Family Court mediator and has helped numerous South Carolina families find compassionate resolutions to their Family Court cases. Visit Bleecker Family Law online or call 843-571-2725.