Prior to their first mediation session, as many as 95 percent of family law parties believe the process will be a waste of time, reasoning that if negotiations alone could resolve the couple's problems, the matter would not be in court. But during mediation, over 70 percent of the parties settle all, or the vast majority of, the issues in the case. Perhaps the reason there is such a significant disparity between expectations and results is that, once the parties begin mediation, they are acutely aware of the three driving forces at work in these situations.
Research indicates that voluntary compliance with a court order is much higher when the parties make all the decisions, or at least most of them. This dynamic is especially present if any participants have issues accepting authority, because these individuals may view a judge's order as not reflective of the realities in the case.
When considering the financial and emotional costs of noncompliance, and since a party that refuses to obey a court order must be brought back before the judge, the benefits of control over the outcome become more apparent.
In addition to this potential long-term expense, there are immediate costs as well. When these cases proceed to trial, the attorneys must spend an enormous amount of time to prepare. There may also be other associated costs, such as the retention of expert witnesses, more in-depth discovery, and possible appeals.
Mediation reduces most of these costs. Instead of a trial that might last several days, the attorneys need only prepare for a mediation session that lasts, at most, several hours. As there is no need for experts to testify, these ancillary costs will be lowered as well.
This dynamic is not always present, because there are some parties that need the emotional closure that a trial sometimes offers. But, for the most part, it is preferable to avoid a courtroom showdown, especially if there are children. Mediation often lays a foundation for successful co-parenting, because the parents are empowered by the fact that they worked together to overcome obstacles. Moreover, instead of a public trial that includes a detailed record of the proceedings, mediation is a more private and low-key affair.
Mediation is not always successful, but it is almost always worth a try. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Naperville family law attorney, contact our office. Convenient payment plans are available.