Why Do We Have to Mediate Our Kentucky Divorce Case?
An estimated 75 to 85% of all divorce cases in Jefferson County, Kentucky settle at mediation. There are many reasons to try to mediate your Family Law case and at least one reason why you should not. The bottom line is that mediation is generally your best bet for getting your case settled.
Your odds of settling your case are very goodThe ten Family Court Judges in Jefferson County handle nearly 20,000 new cases every year plus thousands more old cases that come back to the Court for additional action. Simple math will tell you that our Family Court judges are under a tremendous burden. Couple that with the cost of protracted litigation and the emotional toll of a full-blown divorce or custody battle and you'll realize there must be a better way to end a marriage. Further, the courts here usually require parties to attempt at least one mediation before a trial date will be scheduled. There is a rule that all custody matters must be mediated. An estimated 60% of all Family Law cases are completely settled through mediation, with another 19% achieving at least a partial settlement. Only 21% of parties are unable to resolve anything at all.
Mediation allows the parties to be creative in resolving their caseWhen divorcing parties throw up their hands and go to trial, they're essentially telling the court, "We can't resolve this. YOU decide it!" Particularly with regard to parenting schedules, the Judge may well pull out his cookie cutter and his rubber stamp and put a one-size-fits-all calendar in place that might not be the best possible solution, especially for sharing parenting time and responsibilities. Dividing pots and pans is one thing; sharing Spring Break is another matter altogether.
Mediation is usually required before you can get a Case Management Conference or trial dateMost of the time, the Judge will require the parties to attempt at least one mediation before setting a Case Management Conference or a trial date.
What are the advantages of mediation?Mediation might make it possible for the case to be resolved earlier. There's a reduced rate of post-divorce actions being filed in cases which were successfully mediated. Mediation is an opportunity for the parties to learn a new means of effective communication, especially concerning co-parenting. Successful mediation can improve the parties' POST-divorce relationship, especially concerning the children. And, finally, successful mediation can immediately lower the tremendous stress level for the parties and their children.
When is mediation a bad idea?Victims of domestic violence are not required to attempt mediation. It is an exception built into the process here in Jefferson County. Make sure your attorney is fully aware if you have been abused by your spouse.
How does mediation work?Ideally, the parties and their attorney will meet with a trained Family Law mediator to conduct the mediation. In most situations, the process starts out with everyone in the same room to discuss the ground rules for mediation and, if appropriate, the parties and their attorneys may adjourn to separate rooms for the rest of the session. Other times, everyone stays in the same room, sitting around the same table, allowing the mediator to facilitate their face-to-face negotiations. If the mediation is completely successful, a written mediated agreement will be drafted, executed and filed with the Court, to be incorporated into an entered court order, making the terms of the agreement enforceable. This usually means that any pending motions, hearings or trials can be canceled.
Is mediation confidential?The mediator cannot be called as a witness about what went on in the mediation. Mediation is always confidential though the agreement filed with the Court will likely be public record. You should consult with a Family Law attorney before you rely too much on this confidentiality rule.
Additional resources provided by the author
- "The Complete Guide to Mediation: The Cutting-Edge Approach to Family Law Practice" by Forrest Mosten
- "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In" by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury and Bruce Patton
- www.DivorceInKentucky.com -- Mediation as an Alternative Dispute Resolution method in Kentucky divorce or post-divorce matters