Mediation, also known as alternative dispute resolution, is a process in which a third-party neutral assists in resolving a dispute between two or more parties. It is a non-adversarial approach to conflict resolution. The role of the mediator is to facilitate communication between the parties, assist them in focusing on the real issues of the dispute, and generate options that meet the interests and needs of all relevant parties in an effort to resolve the conflict. Mediation is a particularly effective means to resolve issues that arise in divorce cases, such as custody, support and property division. Most of the mediations conducted at SSHW include only the two parties and the mediator. However, if you have hired an attorney and would like your attorney to participate in a mediation session that will be accommodated so long as both parties agree.
Your mediation at Sevila, Saunders, Huddleston & White, P.C., will be conducted by Craig White. Mr. White has been certified by the Virginia Supreme Court as a family law mediator since 2005. Mr. White was recognized by the Virginia Business magazine as a 'Legal Elite' in the practice of Alternative Dispute Resolution. To contact SSHW and Mr. White, please call 703-777-5700 or click here to contact us by e-mail.
BENEFITS OF MEDIATION
Mediation allows you to customize an agreement to address the unique circumstances of your family. This customization is not necessarily available when relying on a judge to adjudicate your case. You also lose control of the time involved and can lose days at work or miss other commitments. Experts agree that parents usually know the best solutions for their children and most people find it possible to articulate their best interests effectively. For more information, please consider viewing the Virginia State Bar produced video Spare the Child posted on this page.
Mediation is typically much faster than litigation. Your mediator at Sevila, Saunders, Huddleston & White will typically schedule mediation sessions in two to three hour blocks. While every mediation case is different, it typically takes three to five sessions to resolve all issues requiring resolution. Conversely, litigation may require multiple court appearances and a year or more to resolve the same issues that may be resolved in a few mediation sessions. Once the parties reach an agreement, your mediator will draft a Marital Settlement Agreement. While you are strongly encouraged to have the written agreement reviewed by an attorney of your choice before signing it, you are not required to do so.
Mediation is less expensive than litigation in virtually all cases. Mediation is a focused, time efficient means to develop a Marital Settlement Agreement. Most often the parties divide the costs of mediation equally. However, the parties may agree to allocate the mediation expenses in any manner.
Mediation is a voluntary process and is less intimidating than court proceedings. If a party is not satisfied with the mediation process for any reason, the party is not obligated to continue mediation.
Everything discussed during mediation is confidential. Settlement offers made in mediation may not be used as evidence in court in the event mediation is not successful. Accordingly, parties may seek an agreement in mediation without fear that their proposals may thereafter be used against them in litigation.
Mediation can enhance the working relationship between the parties. Our clients who have engaged in a successful mediation rarely resort to court proceedings to address new issues that have arisen after the dissolution of the marriage. Mediation appears to build a positive working relationship between the parents.
This 18 minute video was produced by the Virginia State Bar and features expert advice from counselors, lawyers, and adult children of divorce. Spare the Child guides parents and families through the difficult and often overwhelming task of restructuring a family.
The first step is an orientation session. Each party meets one on one with Craig White to outline the process. Craig can help you define your goals so it's helpful to have an idea of your finances and future plans. Please contact us here to set up an appointment.