Mediation in Divorce

Mediation of Divorces in Dothan

Dothan divorce mediation attorneys representing divorce clients in Dothan, Abbeville, Ozark, Geneva, Enterprise, Troy, and the entire Southeast Alabama area

As the economy has faltered, the Court system has also been affected.  Clerk’s offices are laying off employees and closing on days they would normally be open to save money.  Judicial appointments are going unfilled, and dockets are becoming overcrowded.  A solution that has been found to help with this backlog of cases has been for some divorce judges to order mandatory mediation in divorce cases.

Pre-Trial Mediation

Most divorce judges have begun requiring mediation, even if the parties have not asked to mediate.  The judge presiding over the divorce case will appoint a mediator.  This person usually has many years of experience handling family law matters, and has a working knowledge of what Courts typically do in the many situations that arise in divorce cases.  The mediator’s job is to listen to each side and then then try to bring the parties together by telling them what the mediator believes a fair resolution of the case would look like.  Mediation is not binding, so either party can reject the mediator’s advice.  Also, the mediator is no allowed to share his opinion with the trial judge.

Because many cases often settle at mediation, it is important for divorce clients to have experienced divorce attorneys that are familiar with the mediation process.  At mediation, you and your attorney will have the opportunity to meet with the mediator privately and your attorney will get to use their skills in negotiation and persuasion to have the mediator see your side of the case.  Credibility of the attorneys in a mediation is important so the mediator doesn’t think they are being misled in any way.

The primary advantage to the parties to a successful mediation is they get to decide the final terms of the agreement.  When the case proceeds to a trial in divorce court, there is no more negotiating and they have to deal with whatever the divorce judge decides in his final Order, unless they launch a successful appeal.  If either party does appeal, there is a good chance, they will end up back at mediation during the appellate process.

Mediation during the Appeal

If the final divorce decree is appealed from the Circuit Court, the appeal is filed with the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.  Like many divorce courts do pre-trial, the Appellate court regularly Orders mediation prior to hearing the appeal in yet another effort to get the parties to agree on a final settlement.

Appellate mediations are very similar to the mediations that occur pre-trial.  However, in our experience, the appellate mediator concentrates on the actual divorce decree that has been entered, and the likelihood (or unlikelihood) that any of its terms will be modified by the Appellate Court.  Usually the mediator’s opinion is that the Order will stand up to appeal, however, appellate mediations are still often successful because the parties are willing to continue to negotiate in an attempt to make the case finally come to an end.

When appellate mediation results in a settlement, the settlement document is filed with the original divorce judge to adopt the agreement and sign the final Order.  If not, the case proceeds to the Court of Civil Appeals.

Mediation is only one service we provide our divorce clients.  If you are considering a divorce, contact our experienced divorce attorneys today at 334-792-1900.  Let the Dothan attorneys at Parkman White, LLP help you.