Family Law Mediation Lawyer

What is the Mediation Process?

Considering divorce but wary of the consequences? Prefer a separation without negative consequences? The mediation process is a method for resolving disputes without resorting to court. Mediation between spouses is conducted with the assistance of a  family law mediation lawyer and requires the agreement and cooperation of both parties. The goal of the process, as its name suggests, is to bridge the gaps between the parties and reach a mutually acceptable solution.

Since 2016, couples wishing to divorce are required to undergo four mediation sessions at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs’ support unit. As a result, a 2019 study by the Myers-Joint-Brookdale Institute found that 58% of couples reported resolving their legal dispute by agreement, and 49% avoided litigation.

Still not settled? Afraid of an ugly, lengthy, and expensive divorce? For many, the mandatory mediation process imposed by the court is insufficient, so many couples voluntarily seek the assistance of a private mediator. A family law mediation lawyer can take the necessary time, has the knowledge, and has the ability to bring the couple to a respectful and mutually agreed resolution of disputes related to rights and property.

What are the Differences Between Mediation and Litigation?

To understand the fundamental difference between mediation and litigation, it’s important to remember that mediation is a voluntary process that requires both parties to be willing to cooperate. While litigation is managed in an adversarial and combative manner, the goal of mediation is to find a common and convenient solution for all the conflicting parties. This approach allows a deeper understanding of the reasons for the dispute and even the possibility of reconciliation.

Moreover, in mediation, both parties have greater control. The solution is not imposed from above in the form of a court judgment but is formulated as a joint agreement between the parties with the help of a mediator lawyer. Due to the need for agreement, the family law mediation lawyer is also chosen with the consent of both parties, unlike a judge whose identity the parties cannot determine. Additionally, either party may leave the mediation process at any time.

The main problem with initiating litigation is the risk of losing the case and incurring heavy costs without any benefit. In mediation, it is known that at the end of the process, neither party will come out empty-handed. The agreement, written and signed with the cooperation of both parties, optimally implements the interests of each side and can be given legal validity.

Characteristics of the Mediation Process

To ensure a proper and fair mediation process for each party, there are several mandatory characteristics. These include:

  1. Desire of Both Parties: For mediation to succeed in achieving results, both parties must be willing to participate. Mediation is based on dialogue and the desire of the parties to resolve the dispute with the help of a mediator lawyer who mediates between the conflicting parties. Either party may leave the process at any time. There are cases where the law mandates an introductory meeting (information, acquaintance, and coordination), which is conducted, among other things, through mediation. This applies to civil lawsuits valued at 75,000 ILS or more, as well as family disputes. However, once a case is opened in court, it is difficult to calm the fighting spirits, making the effectiveness of mandatory introductory meetings much less compared to voluntary mediation.
  2. Confidentiality with the Mediator, Between Parties, and in Court: During the process, there is no fear of information being exposed to an external party. Legally, information provided by either party must be kept confidential from any external party unrelated to the dispute unless the provider of the information decides otherwise. Information disclosed in mediation cannot be used as admissible evidence in court, and if one party requests that information be kept from the other party, the mediator lawyer is obligated to maintain its confidentiality. Additionally, complete confidentiality in mediation can be ensured through a mediation participation agreement, signed by both parties, which can prohibit the parties from disclosing information shared in mediation to external sources.
  3. Neutrality of the Mediator Lawyer: The mediator’s role is to help both parties reach an agreement through joint meetings and separate meetings with each party. Therefore, the mediator must be acceptable to both parties and neutral. The lawyer cannot conduct the mediation if there is a concern of interest between them and one of the parties. Furthermore, if there was a professional or personal relationship between the mediator and one of the parties in the past, the other party must give written consent to engage the mediator.

Why is Mediation Preferable to Litigation?

Even in a conflict, remaining positive can be extremely beneficial. Today, the prevailing assumption is that in most conflict cases, mediation is preferable to litigation. For the judicial system, mediation processes help reduce the load, and for the conflicted parties, these processes provide more convenient and less expensive solutions. Here are the main advantages of mediation over litigation:

  1. Cost Savings: Litigation is expensive. The court fee, according to the claimed amount, can reach very high prices, in addition to the lawyers’ fees and the experts’ fees. In contrast, the mediation process only requires payment of the mediator lawyer’s fee, and the cost savings can amount to hundreds or even thousands of shekels.
  2. Time Savings: The courts are overloaded, and sometimes the waiting times between the stages of the trial can be very long. In mediation, the parties determine the duration of the process according to their convenience, saving a considerable amount of time.
  3. Expansion of Interests: While litigation deals only with the specifics of the lawsuit, mediation offers a broader view of the conflict and a full presentation of the interests of both parties. If it is a couple wishing to divorce, mediation allows the regulation of the divorce along with any other subject. For example, property division, child custody, alimony, etcetera., can all be discussed in the same agreement.

Is a Mediation Agreement Legally Binding?

In cases of prenuptial agreements, divorce, or child custody agreements, the parties must present the agreement to a court to grant it legal validity. In other cases, there are two options: defining the agreement as a contract or granting it the status of a court ruling.

Once the agreement is signed between the parties, it is considered a contract in every respect and has legal validity. However, like any other contract, the legal process in the event of a breach is long and more complex than the process required in the case of a court ruling. If it is only a contract, its breach must be litigated based on contract law.

Alternatively, the parties can approach the court to grant the agreement the status of a court ruling. Then, in case of a breach, they can immediately approach the executive authority to resolve the issue, making the process much faster and simpler.

Mediation in Cases of Family Disputes

As mentioned, in family law, mediation before filing a lawsuit is mandatory. When filing a lawsuit and opening a case, the party seeking to file a lawsuit must complete a request form for conflict resolution at the family court. The conflicting parties are then referred to an introductory meeting at the family court’s support unit or to a private mediator. If the mediation fails and no agreement is reached, the party who first filed the request may file a lawsuit in court.

However, approaching mediation after opening a legal case involves paying the case-opening fee, even if a mediation agreement is ultimately drafted and no trial takes place. This cost can be avoided if both parties choose to seek mediation before opting for litigation.

How to Know Whom to Trust?

Family law is complex and constantly changing. Therefore, whether mediation is initiated by the court or privately, it is advisable to choose a mediator lawyer specializing in family law and updated on the regulations. An experienced and specialized lawyer can bring the conflict to an end and draft a comfortable mediation agreement for all parties without litigation and the associated time and significant financial expenses.

Looking for a Mediation and Family Law Firm?

It’s time to start speaking with professional assistance whenever possible. Our firm offers mediation services with lawyers specializing in family matters and various other fields.

For more information, you can leave your details on our website or call 03-3724722.

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