Methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation, have become increasingly popular for individuals interested in saving time, stress, and money on their legal disputes. Understanding how to leverage mediation to your advantage can help you pursue the best outcome in your family law case, whether you're filing for divorce or engaging in a child custody dispute.
At Notaro Calabrese & Epstein, we help clients use mediation to negotiate amicable solutions to legal disputes that benefit both parties. To schedule a consultation with our team for your mediation, contact us online or via phone at (412) 281-1988.
Consider Utilizing an Attorney
Mediations often occur over the course of several meetings, with the mediator acting as a liaison between the parties. However, the mediator cannot give legal advice to either party - they are simply there to inform the parties of demands and attempt to facilitate an equitable outcome via negotiations.
If you want to obtain legal advice during your mediation, you'll need to hire an attorney. While it may make the mediation process slightly more expensive, mediation is often significantly less expensive than litigating a family law dispute, so you'll still be saving money in the long run if your mediation is successful. Having access to counsel that can prevent you from mistakenly accepting an inequitable offer is worth the additional expense.
Don't Start Negotiations in the Middle
Mediation is essentially a formal negotiation between parties. Many individuals make the mistake of starting negotiations by floating an offer they believe is a good middle-ground, under the assumption doing so makes the proposal seem more "reasonable."
In truth, the other party will probably attempt to negotiate down from whatever you offer. As a result, if you want to end up with an equitable outcome, start negotiations by naming your best possible results as your desired end goal. Best-case scenario, you get everything you want. Worst-case scenario, the middle ground you negotiate down to still serves your interests.
Offer the Other Party What They Want
Many people make the mistake of initiating "an eye for an eye" style negotiations. Instead, think about what the other party values, and then attempt to give it to them - in exchange for something you yourself value, of course.
Supplicating the other party by displaying an understanding of their desires and goals can help you get a better outcome in your mediation.
Understand Why You're Mediating
You may hear the acronym "BATNA" (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) and wonder what exactly it means.
When you litigate a family law case, you ultimately leave your future in the hands of the court. You spend a substantial amount of money, only to have the subjective opinion of one individual - guided by the law - determine the outcome of your case.
Mediation gives you the opportunity to have a meaningful say in the outcome of your case. A judge isn't deciding what's fair for you or the other party - you are. You may not end up with the perfect outcome, but you will still achieve results that are aligned with your preferences and goals - something you may not get out of a court.
Some cases can't be successfully mediated, and there's no shame in litigating a case when mediation just isn't working. But if you're feeling momentarily frustrated with the process, understanding how it can help you achieve the best outcome for your short and long-term future can help assuage lingering doubts.
At Notara Calabrese & Epstein, our attorneys understand how to help clients pursue the best path forward in family law cases inside and out.
To schedule a consultation with our team and work with legal counsel you can trust, contact us online or via phone at (412) 281-1988.