Ordinarily, Mediation is a process whereby a neutral, impartial third party facilitates two or more parties in dispute to communicate with each other in order for them to reach an agreement voluntarily. Family mediation therefore would entail the facilitation of family members (couples) who are in disagreement or dispute with each other to communicate among themselves to achieve a qualitative transformation in their interaction by reaching their own agreed and informed decisions concerning some or all of the issues relating to separation, divorce, children, finance or property by negotiation. Family mediation may involve couples who are about to get a divorce or whose relationships have broken down near irretrievably or divorced parents.

Currently, the rules of procedure when a party to a marriage has filed a petition for divorce is that, parties must hold a compulsory conference whereat they agree on issues bothering on custody and welfare of children, sharing of matrimonial properties and other incidental matters that can be settled. This way, all that would be left for the judge to sit on is the dissolution of the marriage and other matters that parties are unable to settle in the conference.

But, this article is not contemplating this kind of mediation. What we seek to establish is the effectiveness of mediation in the settling of family disputes and disagreements before any of the parties file a petition in court for the dissolution of the marriage.

Largely, mediation hands control over to the parties in resolving their disputes and it is a flexible, voluntary, speedy, and cost effective way of resolving disputes. Additionally, Mediation is confidential and is an effective alternative means of resolving conflicts. It drastically cuts short the usual time spent on litigation (Some divorce petitions may go on for up to 3 years), and helps parties resolve their disputes in respectable manner in order to remain in cordial relationship with one another even if the marriage is lost.

It has generally become accepted that one of the major reasons why marriages fail is lack of effectual communication or no communication at all. And this is what mediation seeks to do – see that communication starts and ensure that the right things are discussed, the right issues are addressed and the desired results are achieved.

In Mediation, you and your partner have an opportunity to actually talk with the help of an unbiased, neutral and impartial third party (mediator, which may be a lawyer), who will help you identify the issues and point you in the way to solving them – issues that you might not ordinarily have been able to identify or solve due to emotional hurts.

The only catch to this is that both parties must realize that they have a dispute and must be in agreement on the need to consult a mediator. They must both submit to the mediation process for it to be effective. There are lawyers that have been trained in the art of mediation, and to be on the safe side, you may want to look for and consult such lawyers.

It must however be noted that issues surrounding domestic violence and violence resulting from mental health issues may not be mediated.

While decisions reached at mediation may not have the force of law to be binding on both parties, the willingness of parties to submit to the process and the fact that they jointly reached those decisions may be enough to bind them and restrain them from going back on their decisions.

If you feel the need to schedule a consultation session with a mediator, click here.


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