St. Louis Mediation Lawyer
Divorces and other family law matters can be lengthy and contentious legal battles that leave two or more parties emotionally distraught and financially drained. While it is true that every family law case can lead to a trial, it is often better for parties to participate in mediation to settle their differences.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where two or more parties can negotiate to settle their claims with the help of a third party and without going to trial. Cases that end with mediation leave both parties feeling as though they kept control and often with a better opinion of the other party and the process.
A St. Louis mediation lawyer can help you participate in alternative dispute resolution in an attempt to bring your case to a close in a timely and cost-effective manner. Certified as an approved Mediator, Jennifer Piper can assist you in mediating your case to a successful conclusion.
When is Mediation Appropriate?
The process of dissolving a marriage often involves conflict and long legal battles, as contested divorces can last for multiple years if the parties fight over every portion of the final decree. Commonly disputed issues in divorces include:
- Child custody
- Child support
- The classification of assets as marital or separate property
- Control over a family business
- Maintenance or alimony
- The division of marital assets
Family courts in St. Louis have full discretion to determine these matters independent of the parties’ wishes. However, local judges encourage two conflicting parties to settle their claims without court intervention.
Successful mediation can result in a separation agreement that answers these questions and outlines the parties’ desired divorce decree. In fact, Missouri Revised Statutes §452.325 states that the Court can incorporate a valid marital agreement into a final divorce decree. A St. Louis alternative dispute resolution attorney can help a divorcing couple come to an amicable resolution outside of the courtroom.
What to Expect from Participating in Mediation
Mediation can serve as an effective way for parties to settle their disputes without litigating. MO Rev Stat §452.372 allows a judge to order both parties to participate in alternative dispute resolutions under court supervision if their divorce involves child custody or support. Parties to a divorce may also participate in mediation sessions any time they want during the process.
Either the court or the two parties must nominate an impartial mediator to oversee the session and pass information between the two parties. It is a mediator’s job to find common ground and room for negotiation. They can also help with drafting settlement documents that help the parties resolve their differences.
Both parties have the right to representation by legal counsel during these sessions. A lawyer in St. Louis can represent people during mediation sessions and help bring divorce and child custody disputes to an amicable resolution.
How Does Mediation Work in St. Louis?
Mediation sessions require both parties to a case to meet in a private setting with a “mediator,” usually an attorney who has received special training to become a certified mediator. Because their goal is to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution, this mediator will not take either party’s side during the discussion. Instead, they will work to ensure both parties fully understand each other’s desires and offer legal guidance about how they could structure a divorce agreement to respect everyone’s wishes.
Importantly, anything said during a mediation session is confidential and is not legally binding until specifically agreed to in writing. This means both parties can speak freely and honestly without any concern that the mediator can testify against them during subsequent litigation. If both parties are able to resolve some or all of their outstanding disputes during this session, the mediator can help draft and formalize an agreement that, once signed by both parties, can be submitted to the court for final approval.
Just about any issue that might come up during divorce litigation could be addressed in private and with more direct input from divorcing parties during mediation. That being said, certain matters – especially those pertaining to child support and custody – are still subject to final court approval before any agreement reached during mediation can become legally binding. A St. Louis attorney could go over these procedures and clarify potential benefits and drawbacks of mediation during an initial meeting.
Get in Touch with a St. Louis Mediation Attorney Today
Mediation is an important part of any divorce or child custody dispute in St. Louis. Family law judges can order parties to participate in these sessions, or they may choose to engage in mediation at any time during a case. Either way, mediation is an effective way to shorten a divorce and save time and money. We can assist you by acting as the mediatory or by advising you when working with another mediator.
It is worth noting that mediation is not right for everyone, especially if there has been domestic violence involved or you may be subject to undue influence from the other party. Otherwise, if you think you can both work together to achieve a mutually beneficial resolution, mediation is an affordable and efficient option.
A St. Louis mediation lawyer from our team can represent your interests during an alternative dispute resolution. Our team can help set up the meetings, nominate a potential mediator, and attend the sessions to promote your interests while negotiating a settlement. Contact us today to explore the benefits of mediation in family law disputes.