Mediation offers a less adversarial approach to divorce. In mediation, a neutral third party who is specially trained in negotiation, communication, and conflict-resolution facilitates the parties' settlement talks and helps them arrive at a resolution of their divorce and/or custody related issues. This is a voluntary and confidential process that enables parties to take control of and craft their own settlement rather than having it be dictated by a court. The mediator remains impartial and cannot provide legal advice, represent or advocate for either party. Once a settlement is reached, the mediator drafts an agreement for review by the parties and, if they so desire, their respective attorneys.
If you choose the mediation approach, we can serve either as your attorney or as the mediator. Our attorneys are experienced and skilled at reviewing agreements drafted by third party mediators, participating in mediation sessions with our clients (when appropriate) and, in general, advising our clients through the mediation process. Alternatively, in some instances Kelly Sweeney Hite can serve as the third party mediator.
Kelly Hite is presently mediating divorce and other family disputes, drawing upon her many years of experience as a family law attorney. Informally she has mediated for many years, both as a court appointed conciliator for the Fairfax Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court and as a court appointed neutral case evaluator for the Fairfax Circuit Court. In addition, Ms. Hite has completed the Family Mediation training through the Northern Virginia Mediation Service and is certified by the Virginia Supreme Court to conduct Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court mediations and is in the process of meeting the final requirements for certification at the Circuit Court level.
If you are concerned with maintaining amicable relations, mediation or collaborative law might be a good approach for you. Both mediation and collaborative law offer greater flexibility and opportunity for creatively drafting resolutions that satisfy the needs of both parties, outside the constraints of what a judge might order. As such, they tend to result in higher levels of compliance and client satisfaction.
Unlike the collaborative process, where both parties and their attorneys sign an agreement to refrain from litigating, in mediation there is no prohibition against litigation and sometimes litigation occurs contemporaneously with the mediation process. (For example, the parties may be working on a mediated custody and visitation agreement, while simultaneously contesting support and/or property division.) However, the goal of mediation is ultimately to avoid litigation, allow the parties to control the outcome (rather than the court), minimize expense, preserve relationships and produce a binding agreement that is acceptable to all involved.
Call (703) 766-0732 for more information or Schedule a Consultation with one of our Fairfax family law attorneys.