What is Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary process that facilitates negotiations to assist parties in reaching a resolution to their dispute that both sides can accept. It is a way of solving problems which allows the participants in a dispute to talk with each other, even if they could not do so before, and resolve conflict with out having to resort to the courts for the solution. It is a settlement process that allows and encourages the parties, rather than lawyers and judges, to control what happens to their finances, their parenting plans, their families, and their businesses.
Mediation is conducted by a mediator. Mediator is translated from the Greek, mesites, which means a go between, intercessor, a reconciler. One who intervenes between two parties.
Christian mediation follows the same process as any mediation but the mediator comes from a faith-based approach, biblical principles and prayerful discernment. They must follow some of the same protocol as a non-Christian mediator, but have the advantage of the greatest Mediator, Jesus Christ, as their guide, their strength, resource, and influence. They do not rely only on their own book knowledge and wisdom, but also from a relationship with God. They know that the only hope of a restored marriage, or healed life, is through a personal relationship with the Lord. They also know they are only a vessel that the Lord may choose to use in the process of this family’s life. They know that they represent God in working with the family and not as a judge and jury, but as a missionary of peace, hope, and love.
Who should use mediation?
Mediation offers significant advantages to any couple who have the courage to dialogue with each other directly regarding their conflict and mutual interests. Even if communications with your spouse have not been good, a skilled mediator can help you express your concerns and needs. We believe there is no one more qualified to enter this voluntary settlement process, which lets the husband and wife, rather than lawyers and judges, control what happens to their finances, children’s custody arrangement, businesses, and their lives.
You will take on much of the responsibility for deciding how “fair” will be defined for your particular agreement. Likewise, each gives up the option of blaming a higher authority for imposing an “unfair” settlement upon them, if either should later become dissatisfied. The couple who mediates can reach creative and individualized solutions that fit their unique family and situation. But to do so, they must create and then live by their own working definitions of “fairness.”
To a large extent, “fairness” is in the eye of the beholder. Each beholder may have difficulty seeing the reality through the lenses of unspoken preconceptions and assumptions. The mediator will help with clarity and options, and guide you through the work to be done.
But at the end of the agreement, mediation will have allowed you --the spouses- to make clear commitments to one another and decide the course of action going forward. You re-define your new relationship as parents and your financial lives with your accountability for a future versus one having been handed down by a judge. Statistically, the percentages of the most honored agreements are those that are mediated.
How does mediation work?
The husband, wife, and professional mediator meet in an informed setting to determine the most effective parenting plan and division of their assets and debts for “this family.” During mediation, both parties will have the opportunity to be heard as they share their individual needs, interests, goals, and objectives. The mediator will help identify and clarify issues, help create options for resolving them, discard options that don’t meet the needs of the husband or wife (or children). After being fully informed, (and all documentation provided) you will engage in negotiations and joint problem solving to craft the best settlement for you and your family.
While the mediator facilitates the process, the final decisions belong to the parties. This “team work” approach is the beginning of helping couples gain skills in joint problem solving for future conflict. This is especially beneficial in co-parenting relationships.
Do the parties need an attorney?
Mediation is not a substitute for legal advice. Attorneys can help their clients become educated about the laws of their state. Then the party can enter mediation informed of their legal rights as they negotiate their settlement. Attorneys may be needed to review the Summary of Mediation and reduce it to legal language.
Choosing to work only through the legal system offers the following:
Result: Litigation isn’t a search for fairness and justice; it’s about winning and losing. The court can’t repair a broken heart. It can only divide the assets and award custody of the children. No matter what the judge does, you won’t feel whole or get your pound of flesh from the legal system.
Control: Once you put your life in the hands of lawyers and judges you lose all control. Strangers will decide the fate of your children, pension, house, and bank accounts. You have to show up when the judge says and do what you’re told, whether you like it or not. You have to trust that your lawyer is doing right by you even though you have no way to know.
Privacy: Court proceedings are public. There could be a judge, clerk, court reporter and bailiff at your divorce hearing, any one of whom might be your next door neighbor. You give up your privacy when you go to court.
Why would anyone choose to go to court? Sometimes they have unrealistic expectations about the process and the outcome. Sometimes it’s because they don’t know there is an alternative.
What does mediation cost?
Much, much less! Though lawyers may be included in pieces of the mediation process, the cost is always substantially less then litigation resolution. Mediation is also less costly emotionally both on the parties and on their children in family disputes.
Many mediators work on a fee basis and so do we. This fee can be paid by one or both parties, in any sharing arrangement they agree upon. The intake fee is $100.00. Plus, there is an hourly rate of $80.00 with a 5 hour minimum. Most mediation can be done for a complete cost of $500.00. The charges may rarely increase depending on the number of factors influencing the case.
We have helped many couples, and we can save you hundfeds if not thousands in attorney fees!
Tuscaloosa Christian Counseling
519 Energy Center Blvd.
Energy Center Office Park, Suite 1103
Northport, AL 35473