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Civil mediation is the process whereby a neutral third party disputing parties assists the parties in resolving their dispute.
Personal Injury disputes, abor/Personnel disputes, ADA disputes, Real Estate disputes,


Divorce and paternity issues are some of the most sensitive an individual can face.
Mediation is private, so your family’s most personal matters never become an issue of public record.


Dispute is a regular part of the business world. Business professionals are focused on doing what is best for their company.
Some business mediations settle a dispute in as little as just a few hours.


What Happens In Civil Mediation?

Simply stated, a “civil mediation” involves any dispute which is not family related.  A civil dispute can cover anything from an automobile accident to a dispute between neighbors or a dispute involving the distribution of assets following the death of a family member (Probate).

The mediator will typically explain the mediation process to both parties in a joint session and although it is not unheard of for the entire mediation to proceed with all interested parties in one room it is more common for the mediator to  separate the parties during the negotiation process.  The mediation process is a safe, informal and confidential process that has a high rate of success.  In mediation, the mediator is in control of the process but the parties control the outcome.   Unlike in Court, in mediation, no one can force a resolution upon the parties.  A binding agreement is reached only when all parties are satisfied with the agreement.

What Happens in Domestic Mediation?

Each separation or divorce is one-of-a-kind, just like marriage.  During the marriage a couple works together on ways to solve family issues.  When the marriage ends, by separation or by divorce, that “working together” is harder, and there are new issues facing the parties.

In the past, solving family issues often meant going to “outsiders” for  help. Each spouse would hire a lawyer, the lawyer would write legal documents listing what each spouse wanted until, maybe, the spouses could agree. Sometimes the spouse couldn’t afford a lawyer. And sometimes a family member, a friend, or clergy would help the spouses. Or sometimes the spouses didn’t have a trusted third person willing to help them.

Today there is a different way of dealing with the issues and problems that come with separation and divorce. It’s called Mediation. Mediation isn’t marriage counseling–that is for couples who want to get back together again. Mediation is a way for you and your spouse to continue working together, to solve the new issues that come with separation.

Mediation works in the way that’s best for your family. Usually, the mediator meets with you both, at the same time. Sometimes there are separate meetings too–whatever works best in your one-of-a-kind family situation. You each have an idea of what problems or issues need to be solved, but your ideas may be different. The mediator helps you find the issues on which you already agree, then works with you and your spouse for the best solution to the others.

What Are the Issues?

Some of the issues are big, others aren’t. For many couples, some or all of the following may be questions in the mediation:

  • How will we divide the things we own?
  • Who will the children live with?
  • What happens to our debts?
  • We both want to live in the house.  Who will?
  • If the kids live with my spouse, how can I keep in touch with them?
  • How can I live on a reduced income?

Each of you will have different questions, but all of the questions are about the future. Did you notice that?  That fact, too, is an important part of mediation.

The mediator is there to help you and your family and will not try to talk you into something. Mediation doesn’t mean “agreement or else.” The mediator will be impartial–not “for” or “against” either spouse. The mediator will meet with you and explain how mediation works, how the issues will be dealt with, how long it might take, and what it will cost. The mediator will ask you to sign an agreement about some of the basic rules that will be followed during mediation. You will be encouraged to keep in touch with your lawyer.

The Special Needs of Children

In domestic mediation, the needs of children have a special place. Sometimes, although rarely, the mediator will ask to speak to the children, especially if their residence or a visiting schedule are issues. No contact will be made, however, without your approval and agreement about why the children are to be seen. Children are part of the family too, and they may have their own questions and concerns about the future, and have needs quite different from yours. The parties should always keep in mind that the children’s best interest should always be the top priority in any domestic dispute.

Finding a Mediator

Mediators are professionals with specific training in mediation, who come from a variety of backgrounds including law, social work, education and psychology. Mediators in private practice charge an hourly rate which is usually shared by both spouses. See below for phone numbers to contact The Mediation Alternative.

Do I Still Need A Lawyer?

Even though some mediators are lawyers, the work a mediator does is quite different from the work your lawyer does for you. The mediator helps you and your spouse work out the issues and problems which come with separation and divorce. The mediator will know the laws affecting your separation/divorce, but your own lawyer is still needed to tell you what your rights and duties are, and to advise you on any written agreement you come to.