Most couples who choose to end their marriage aren’t looking for a fight. They instead wish to peacefully end their marriage and move on with their lives with the least amount of legal intervention possible. If you’re one of these people, then mediation may be the best option for you and your ex-spouse. Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process used to resolve conflict with the guidance of an impartial person. Ideally the individual should have extensive experience with family law, specifically divorce.
If you’re in the early planning stages of your divorce, consider contacting an experienced family law mediator. Washington couples who choose mediation tend to avoid the contention and sometimes destructive process that can occur with litigation. They also usually focus on the actual issues regarding the dissolution rather than any personal conflict between the two parties. Plus, mediation is usually a much cheaper option than going to trial. It’s also proven to improve family dynamics versus divorcing through the court system as it emphasizes communication rather than just letting the courts decide the outcome.
Mediation Seattle Lawyer | King County Dispute Resolution
If you’re more interested in pursuing mediation or arbitration rather than lawyer led litigation, call Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. Shana Thompson is not only a seasoned family law lawyer with extensive divorce litigation experience, but also offers mediation services. Her team works hard to ensure all clients can settle their cases with less cost and emotional stress by providing guidance and knowledge in the form of mediation.
In addition, attorney Thompson’s experience as a family lawyer means she thoroughly understands what needs to be included in a divorce agreement. You can trust her and her staff to ensure no stone is uncovered and that every part of the agreement is addressed methodically. Set up your first consultation with Shana Thompson today by calling Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson at (206) 712-2756.
Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson accepts clients throughout the greater Bellevue and King County area including Seattle, Federal Way, Redmond, Kirkland, Renton, Kent, and Issaquah. Our attorneys also work throughout the cities in both King County and Snohomish County, Washington.
- How Does Mediation Work?
- What Happens in Mediation?
- How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?
- How Long After Mediation is Divorce Final?
- Is Mediation Binding?
- How Are Mediation and Arbitration Similar?
- Why is Mediation Advantageous?
- Additional Resources
How Does Mediation Work?
Mediation is a voluntary legal process for resolving family law matters with the assistance of an impartial and trained professional. The event is confidential and addresses all the interests of involved parties and from there develops a resolution that can cater to everyone. The purpose of mediation is to create an agreement that will suit all parties and to avoid the complex and sometimes anxiety-ridden option of going to trial.
Mediations do not impose will or judgement to either party and should be unbiased throughout the process. Their job is to detect family law issues and then explore possible avenues for resolution. They will also inform all parties of the consequences of not settling through mediation and the emotional/fiscal cost it may take to take the matter to court.
The mediator working with both you and your ex-spouse should do the following:
- Give each party a chance to be heard
- Be respectful to all parties interests and feelings
- Find solutions to any family law issues or disagreements
- They should not give legal advice
- They should never “take sides”
- They will only express their personal opinions on a matter when asked
What Happens in Mediation?
Mediation can either be conducted with a private mediator or though the court-supported Washington State Dispute Resolution Center. While the DRC is a practical option for those with simple family law matters, the center may not be equipped to take on a complex and demanding divorce case. We would recommend you hire a private mediator as they will be able to dedicate more of their time and energy into finding agreeable solutions.
If you pursue private mediation, you will have to first fill out some paperwork, so the mediator has a detailed picture of your financial status and situation. The discovery process will include proprietary forms and worksheets that are required if you’d like to pursue mediation. Please note, you must be honest when filling out these forms. Any dishonesty or deception may simply hurt you in the end during mediation.
You will then attend a private and confidential mediation session. Some couples or families require multiple sessions to completely resolve the family matter. This is especially true for divorce cases as issues such as parenting plans, spousal maintenance, property division, and other common dissolution matters must be agreed upon to successfully divorce.
If you and all parties are able to reach a settlement agreement, they mediator will then create a Memorandum of Understanding. The document will cover all agreed-upon decisions made during meditation. Once that agreement is completed and signed, both you and your ex-spouse can file it with the appropriate courts.
How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?
The answer to how long it will take to divorce through mediation will depend on how complex and contentious the split was. For some couples, mediation is a very straight forward process as they already have an idea of how they want to settle, they may just want to hammer out the details. Depending on the situation, a divorce agreement may be reached in one session.
However, some couples have incredibly complicated circumstances and may be experiencing extreme emotional distress due to the divorce. When this occurs, it’s normal for the mediator to host several sessions before a settlement can be agreed upon. If both parties won’t agree despite the efforts of the mediator, they may suggest taking the matter to court.
How Long After Mediation is Divorce Final?
After an agreement has been reached through mediation, you can finally finalize your divorce. The court within your jurisdiction that handles divorce must review your agreement beforehand. They will analyze the document for any possible omitted information and must approve it before a judge in order to confirm the dissolution of your marriage.
While the judge is deliberating, they may ask some of the following questions:
- Are the terms in compliance with Washington divorce laws?
- Does it seem like the mediator was biased in any way?
- Was there any duress used to make one party sign the agreement?
- Do the terms and conditions tend to favor one spouse?
The judge may hold an informal hearing if they suspect one of the parties was coerced or forced into signing the agreement. During the hearing they will interview both sides and determine whether the mediation was fair.
Couples who choose to divorce through mediation still have to follow the procedures set forth under Washington law. One party must file for dissolution to start the process and once 90 days has passed you can file your Decree of Dissolution.
Is Mediation Binding?
It’s important to understand that mediation is a non-binding procedure. Although both sides have agreed to submit to dispute a family issue through mediation, that doesn’t mean they are obligated to continue the process. Mediation is a voluntary procedure and throughout the proceedings the parties still have control over whether the mediation should end or not.
What this also means is that a decision made in mediation cannot be enforced. The only way a mediation decision can be imposed on both parties is if they file an agreement settled through mediation and filed it with the appropriate court. The mediation is not a decision-maker, but instead assists both parties find a fair and obtainable settlement through unbiased guidance.
How Are Mediation and Arbitration Similar?
Mediation isn’t the only form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). You can also choose to pursue arbitration, which is where a neutral third-party will hear both sides and then make a decision or award. Both processes are similar as they bring together the conflicting parties in order to resolve a family law issue outside the courtroom with an unbiased third-party.
What separates arbitration and mediation is the arbitrator may have the power to impose a decision or award on one or both of the parties. Before the process begins, both parties decide whether the arbitration will be binding or non-binding. Binding arbitration will mean any decision or award made by the third-party must be executed. If one party is dissatisfied with the arbitrator’s decision, then they can file an appeal to request a trial instead.
Why is Mediation Advantageous?
What works best to resolve your family law issue will depend on your circumstances. Most, however, would recommend mediation before you attempt to go to trial. Many statistics indicate that divorced couples who choose mediation are often happier than those who chose to pursue trial to resolve their issues. Listed below are some advantages to choosing mediation.
- The process focuses on the issues rather than any personal conflict between parties
- It can result in solutions that satisfy both parties
- Detects and confronts interests and concerns of both parties and their children
- A much less costly process that usually causes less stress
- Parties have control ultimately on whether the mediation will continue
- Emphasizes communication and overall improves family dynamics
- Saves any shared children from the confusion/stress that can come with a divorce trial
Dispute Resolution American Bar Association – Visit the official website for the American Bar Association (ABA) page to learn about alternative dispute resolution including mediation. Their goal is to increase public understanding of dispute resolution so they can navigate their own with use. Access the dispute resolution webpage to learn the various different types of dispute resolution processes and other important information.
Mediation & Arbitration | Washington Courts – Visit the official website of the Washington Courts to learn more about the different types of dispute resolution available. Access the site to read more in detail about mediation and how it may be beneficial to you.
King County Mediation Services | Washington Family Law Attorney
Do you wish to divorce your spouse without the cost and emotional stress of going to trial? Contact Shana Thompson of Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson to learn about her mediation services. Ms. Thompson is a skilled family law attorney who also offers mediation to any families struggling to resolve important legal issues. Her years of experience as a lawyer gives her a thorough understanding of conflict resolution without the necessity of litigation.
Call Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson today at (206) 712-2756 to set up your first consultation to discuss mediation. Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson accepts clients throughout the greater King County and Snohomish County, WA area.