Mediation is an assisted settlement negotiation. Mediators don’t take sides, and are used for the sole purpose of trying to help people reach a settlement agreement. Lawyers may or may not be present at mediation if a divorce action hasn’t yet been filed, but the Mediator cannot be counted on to provide legal advice. He or she will not do so.
A mediation in which lawyers represent both parties is generally part of the litigation process. In most cases – particularly where children are involved -- parties are required to try and settle their case through mediation before they can go to court for trial.
Positives: Mediators are neutral, and can offer the parties a different perspective of their cases than the ones they bring to the bargaining table. Also, having both clients (and both lawyers) in the same place at the same time, with everyone’s attention focused on resolving disputes that day, can often create a positive environment for settlement.
Negatives: Mediation often takes place just before a case is scheduled to go to trial, after the parties have already spent money, time, and emotional energy fighting. Mediation under these circumstances can sometimes feel coercive to clients.