Mediation is essentially the same process as a 4-way meeting. The significant difference is the presence of a mediator, and/or the fact that not all mediation includes the presence of attorney’s for the parties. The mediator either has experience and/or mediation training. The mediator is typically an attorney and may or may not have experience in the area of family law. This firm strongly believes the mediator should be an attorney with a strong background in family law.
The goal of the mediator is to maintain neutrality in an effort to educate the parties about the other parties’ positions, why they hold them, and what options there are for each party to attempt to get close to what they want to resolve a particular issue, or exactly what they seek. A mediator with family law experience will likely have a much more realistic perspective on what either party may end up with if the disputed issue is tried before a judge. That can be the largest benefit to the parties aside from their neutrality.
The parties often start out with the mediator around the table together with the parties. The mediator will then give each of them an opportunity to tell the other what their initial settlement proposal is and why they believe their position is correct. From that point the parties will remain together at the table and try and work towards settlement. However, it is very common for the mediator to split the parties up into two separate rooms and “shuttle” back and forth between rooms. This process allows each party to be candid with the mediator about their positions and why they believe they are fair while at the same time being able, in most situations, to keep the parties emotions (i.e. anger, confrontation, etc.) out of the process. Attempting to remove the confrontational issues is one of the key elements to the mediation process. There can be one or more mediation sessions.