Cincinnati Family Law & Divorce Blog: Is Mediation Right for Me?

Mediation services are used for resolving all sorts of disputes between individuals or businesses in many different areas. Mediation is commonly used in family law as an alternative to litigation. In the Cincinnati area, there are attorneys who are trained mediators, and mental health practitioners, and individuals without any required professional licensing who act as mediators. In our law practice, we normally work with attorneys and mental health professionals as mediators.


A mediator can be engaged at various stages of a family law matter. For example, there are cases where a couple decides to end their marriage, and rather than seeking independent legal counsel, they engage a mediator to help them resolve their issues and then engage lawyers to prepare the legal documents and have the case processed through court. In other cases, a couple may each engage legal counsel and their attorneys may recommend they attempt mediation to resolve their issues. In this type of situation, the lawyers may recommend their clients participate in mediation without the lawyers being present, or they may request to be present for the mediation sessions. In other situations, the parties and their counsel may attempt to reach a settlement and when they find themselves at a roadblock, may suggest the services of a mediator.


The role of a mediator, even a mediator who is a trained lawyer is not to give legal advice. Their role is to act as a neutral facilitator who assists the parties in reaching resolutions. All effort is made to facilitate successful negotiating. Sometimes this means the mediator goes back and forth between two rooms and keeps the parties apart, but most often the mediation occurs with both parties and the mediator together.


We are often asked about the advantages and disadvantages of mediation, as well as the differences between mediation and collaboration. Both processes are “alternative dispute resolution” techniques, meaning these are approaches that can be taken as alternative to the court process. The selling point of both techniques is to attempt to minimize the contentiousness between two parties and to use creative thinking to develop solutions that will meet both parties’ goals. It is often thought that mediation can be a less expensive process than collaboration because only one professional is involved (assuming that the lawyers are not present). In all candor, sometimes lawyers can make a case more difficult, especially if they mistrust one another or have a bad history, so there may be situations where clients prefer doing as much as possible without lawyers. However, the main reason people may choose collaboration rather than mediation is because of a concern about negotiating with their spouse without the support of their lawyer. In many cases, one spouse feels less informed or has a fear of being intimidated by negotiating directly with their spouse.


Mediation can be a very effective approach for resolving family law matters, whether it is for a divorce or just parenting issues. You should discuss this option with an attorney to decide if this approach would be comfortable and productive for you.