The Joslyn Law Firm Offers The Special Skills Your Family Law Matter Requires
Divorce is considered one of the significant life changes, often accompanied by difficult feelings, moving, financial stress, and finding a new routine. For many people, this significant life change lasts a long time, leaving them depleted of emotional energy and financial resources. Building your support team early can make the process a smoother one. The divorce attorneys and staff at the Joslyn Law Firm possess the special skills required to help you achieve the best possible result in your family law matter.
In many situations, couples can spend several months to years litigating their divorces in a courtroom. During court proceedings, the parties produce multiple court filings and make their arguments before a judge, who ultimately makes the final decisions about child support, child custody, parenting time, spousal support, and division of marital assets. For those couples who fail to agree on many issues, judges will make decisions that have long-term effects on the future of their families. Often, a judge’s decision can leave one or both parties with hard feelings when one or more of the issues isn’t in their favor. Unfortunately, the process and final result of divorce can lead to some difficult thoughts and feelings. However, divorcing couples often forget or ignore the possibility of partially or completely avoiding courtroom litigation. Mediation provides divorcing couples an alternative to the traditional courtroom environment.
Our attorneys at the Joslyn Law Firm are family law attorneys who are prepared for both courtroom litigation and mediation. We have the skills needed to help you build the most successful case for your situation. Please call our office at (614) 420-2424 to schedule your free consultation with a mediation lawyer in Columbus or contact us online.
Overview Ohio Divorce Mediation
- What Is Mediation?
- Who Are Divorce Mediators And How Do They Help?
- Do I Need A Divorce Attorney To Attend Mediation?
- Is Divorce Mediation Required?
- Divorce Meditation and Child Custody
- Benefits Of Divorce Mediation
- Voluntary And More Control Over The Outcome
- Partial And Full Agreements And Multiple Sessions
- Reduced Time And Costs
- Confidential And Informal
- Improves And Sustains Relationships
- What Are Steps For Divorce Mediation?
- What If There Is No Agreement After Divorce Mediation?
- Hiring A Family Law Attorney For Divorce Mediation In Ohio
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that provides a partial or complete replacement for litigation. Rather than disputing issues in court and giving a judge authority to make decisions, mediation provides couples the opportunity to work through their issues in a more relaxed environment. The goal is for divorcing couples to reach a full or partial agreement on their disputed issues. Under the direction of a licensed mediator, couples can discuss their wants and needs. Agreements are formed through compromises rather than a judge’s decision. Mediation can address many common family law issues pertaining to Ohio divorces including the following:
- Spousal support;
- Custody and parenting time;
- Child support;
- Division of assets, including the house, vehicles, retirement accounts, money, and more;
- Division of debts, including house and vehicle payments, loans, credit cards, and more;
- Family pets; and
- Damages for losses, including reckless spending or failure to pay bills.
Who Are Divorce Mediators And How Do They Help?
Divorce mediators are neutral, third-party practitioners who are trained to guide divorcing couples and others in family cases through alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Mediators do not represent either person in the dispute. Skilled mediators know how to avoid advocating for one person or “taking sides” during difficult and emotional conversations. Mediators help couples by:
- Facilitating discussion;
- Re-focusing/Re-centering issues when necessary;
- Asking questions and clarifying issues;
- Explaining and repeating information to avoid misunderstandings; and
- Providing space for both parties to discuss what they want and why.
To mediate family disputes, mediators must meet education requirements and take additional coursework, as directed by the Ohio Supreme Court. Some mediators have law degrees, although it is not required. Typically, mediators are retired judges and attorneys who are also licensed as mediators. Sometimes financial experts, such as accountants or actuaries, mediate to help with the division of couples’ assets and debts. For more information on mediation, please visit the Supreme Court of Ohio’s website for Dispute Resolution FAQs.
Do I Need A Divorce Attorney To Attend Mediation?
Because mediators are neutral, they do not give legal advice to the parties during the mediation. They are not replacements for attorneys, and each person should attend mediation with an attorney. This allows the mediator to properly remain neutral and the parties to receive the legal advice necessary to work through the process. For example, if you planned to dispute custody but did not have a sufficient understanding of Ohio custody law, attending mediation without a family law attorney would make it very difficult for you to reach a custody agreement with the other parent.
Is Divorce Mediation Required?
For some families, contentious and difficult court proceedings may be the only option to resolve important marital issues. When couples choose not to mediate the resolution of these issues, it is often because they only bring an extremely negative attitude to any attempted negotiations. They may even refuse to be in the same room with the other partner. Divorce attorneys will advise clients against using mediation if they believe the process will not achieve positive results. In other situations, couples with a history of domestic violence may choose not to mediate or are prohibited by a court order from attempting mediation. If either of these two situations does not apply, not only may mediation be an option, it may be required by Ohio law.
Divorce Mediation and Child Custody
In divorce proceedings involving children, Ohio law grants family law judges the authority to require parents to attempt mediation. When judges mandate mediation, divorcing parents are only required to address issues relevant to their minor children, including custody, parenting time, and child support. These issues can include topics like:
- Day-to-day childcare and overnights;
- Weekly and holiday parenting time schedules;
- Medical decisions;
- Schooling and extracurricular activities;
- Religious needs; and
- Involvement of grandparents and other family members and friends.
Divorcing parents can also choose to address other issues that are unrelated to children in mediation.
Although some divorcing parents may dread seeing the other parent in mediation, judges can mandate mediation for several reasons. Although judges are trained in their professions and regularly make decisions, family law disputes with children are unlike any other type of legal dispute. The law strongly prefers that parents work together and mutually decide on parenting time issues. The truth is that parents know their children better than judges, and allowing a judge to make these decisions often leaves parents unhappy and dissatisfied with the system. When parents work together in mediation and compromise on childrearing issues, they practice dispute resolution skills that have positive long-term effects.
Another reason that judges require mediation is that they do not want to decide significant medical, educational, and religious issues for families. Making life-changing decisions for children in place of their parents can be very difficult for anyone, even judges. Issues like vaccines, what school to attend, church attendance, diets, and others can be controversial. Judges often prefer that parents make the final decisions about these issues.
Benefits Of Divorce Mediation
If you are considering divorce, mediation can be a solution that gives you the peace of mind you need to avoid a lengthy court proceeding. There are many benefits, many of which are unknown or not given enough mention or credit. These benefits include the following:
- Voluntary and offers more control over the outcome;
- Partial and full agreements;
- Reduced costs and time;
- Confidential and informal; and
- Improved relationships.
Voluntary And Offers More Control Over The Outcome
For most people, divorce is about developing independence and taking control of their new lives. The court leaves little room for personal choices when decision-making is given to judges. Unless a judge orders mediation for child custody issues, mediation is completely voluntary. Divorcing couples can choose to mediate some or all of their issues. Clients often report feeling more empowered after mediation because of their participation and compromise on the issues.
However, having more control does not mean that divorcing couples walk away without making compromises. If you attend mediation, you can still leave feeling disappointed about some of the results, but these outcomes can certainly be better than those you could have received from a judge’s decision. Additionally, any compromises that you make are likely to be met by your partner’s compromises related to other issues.
It is important to remember that mediation is non-binding, so there is no harm to the divorce process if a session fails to help you reach an agreement. Parties may be close to agreements but need a little more time to think about it before signing anything. Finally, parties are not bound by any verbal agreements but only by a written, signed agreement. All this can be explained by your Ohio divorce mediation lawyer at Joslyn Law Firm.
Partial And Full Agreements And Multiple Sessions
When parties enter mediation, it can be overwhelming to consider all their areas of disagreement. It is certainly not uncommon for partners to disagree on many issues in a divorce. Thankfully, mediation does not require that you resolve every issue in one session. If you and your spouse have three issues to settle, such as custody, parenting time, and spousal support, mediation might help you resolve one or all of them. The goal is to reduce or eliminate disputes to decrease the amount of time you spend in court. If you resolve only one issue, then mediation was successful!
Perhaps mediation is going relatively well, and you and your spouse have resolved some issues, but you run out of time. This may require a second session, which is still strongly preferable to avoiding more time spent in court.
Reduced Time And Costs
Divorcing couples are often pleasantly surprised when they learn how quickly they can meet with a mediator. The waiting period for mediation is often much less than the period for a date in family court. Unlike family court hearings, mediation sessions typically last three to six hours, and some couples can address their issues in one session. Even if more than one session is required, the time needed to start and finish mediation is often much less than the time needed to address issues in family court. When couples go to court, they might wait many months between hearing dates.
In addition to reduced time, couples are often surprised by the greatly reduced costs of mediation. Although mediation still requires time for you and your divorce attorney to meet and prepare, mediation does not require multiple court filing fees and reduces or completely avoids the cost of trials. Although divorce can leave many divorcing couples worried about their finances, mediation provides a much more affordable alternative to the traditional costs of litigation.
Confidential And Informal
Typically, all parties involved in mediation– attorneys, clients, and mediators– all agree that anything said in mediation remains confidential in any future court hearings. Unlike court hearings, which are open to the public and recorded by a court reporter, mediation sessions are limited to the parties involved and anyone else the parties agree to have present. This high level of confidentiality provides couples with an environment to be completely open and honest and freely say whatever they choose. If the parties reach an agreement, it is omitted from the final court order unless the court ordered the parties to mediation.
Unlike courtrooms that follow specific formal rules and procedures, mediation sessions are not bound by the same limitations. While mediation sessions are structured, they are also informal and more relaxed. Sessions often occur in offices, which tend to reduce the pressure and tension commonly associated with courtrooms.
Improved and Sustained Relationships
If you are considering mediation, you might be surprised to learn that the process can sustain or create positive aspects of your relationship, even if the relationship is ending. Mediation can even reduce negative feelings that are present during the divorce. These aspects are particularly important for couples who still need to raise children together.
Before contacting an attorney or starting mediation, either party may experience many negative thoughts and feelings towards the other person. Once they begin to talk through their issues with their attorneys and mediator, they start to relax and find that compromising is better than contention, frustration, and helplessness. This does not mean everyone leaves mediation satisfied and content with any agreement. However, partners watching each other compromise often leaves both parties feeling better about their situations than before they entered the mediation session.
What Are Steps For Divorce Mediation?
Scheduling a mediation session is generally an easier process than the process for court proceedings. Couples who have already spoken to attorneys about mediation and want to start the process do not need to file anything in court to initiate the process. Couples who have already started a legal proceeding in court are not prevented from using mediation. Many couples, long after the filing of the divorce petition, decide to attempt mediation. In any case, the steps are generally the same.
- The attorneys and their clients agree to attempt mediation. If they have already been to court, they will notify the court of their intent to mediate.
- Parties mutually agree to a mediator and contact the divorce mediation office.
- The mediator or a mediator’s staff facilitates the scheduling of the date and time of mediation.
- The mediator will provide the attorneys and clients with the guidelines and rules of mediation.
If the mediation results in the full or partial agreement of marital issues, the mediator will draft the agreement and send it to the parties’ attorneys, who will review it and explain it to their respective clients. If the attorneys and clients understand and agree to its contents, they will sign it, which will make it legally binding.
What If There Is No Agreement After Divorce Mediation?
If the parties attempt to mediate and cannot reach an agreement on any marital issue, there are several options. Some parties may choose to take some time to further think about what was discussed and return for a second session. They may later reach an agreement after the session. If there is no agreement on any issue, parties can return to court and continue to address their issues before a judge. Usually, details related to mediation cannot be included in any courtroom proceedings.
In situations where divorcing couples come to a partial agreement, the attorneys notify the court of outstanding issues that need to be addressed in court.
Hiring A Family Law Attorney For Divorce Mediation Process In Ohio
At the Joslyn Law Firm, we understand that divorce has many components (e.g., property division) that will impact your future. Having the right divorce attorney on your side can greatly reduce your stress and allow you to cope with your new life changes. Divorce mediation, while an alternative to the courtroom, still requires preparation and advocacy. Brian Joslyn is an attorney who has received local and national recognition for his work in the legal community. Not only was he chosen into Rue Ratings’ Best Attorneys of America, but Brian was also nominated by The National Trial Lawyers Association as a Top 100 Trial Attorney. When you work with a divorce mediation lawyer at Joslyn Law Firm, know that you’re partnering with an exceptional team of seasoned attorneys. Call us today at (614) 420-2424 to schedule your free consultation or contact us online. We represent clients in Franklin, Pickaway, Delaware, Licking, Madison, Union, and Fairfield counties.
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