>> Jun 11, 2016
Mediation is most often associated with divorce and separation; whilst it is highly beneficial in this situation, it is not the only type of law where mediation and settlement counselors are required. In theory, it is possible to require mediators and settlement counselors in any area of law where there is a disagreement between two or more parties. Both mediator and settlement counselor are terms that are discussed fairly often and they can sometimes get confused. So what’s the difference between the two?
As family law is the most commonly utilized area of law that involves both mediators and settlement counselors, we will focus on this area. Both mediators and settlement counselors can be used in a divorce or childcare arrangement proceedings, but in different ways. Often, a settlement counselor will be a step before the mediator. Many people choose to try a settlement counselor first and then engage with a mediator if this does not work. A settlement counselor can help the two parties try to come to some arrangement in an informal way. Often the individuals are in a separate room from each other and it is the lawyers that do the communicating, supported by a settlement counselor.
In contrast, mediation involves both parties meeting face to face in the presence of a trained and qualified professional. A mediator is a neutral third party who has no interest in the case either way. This is different from settlement meetings where the individuals do not meet face to face. This can be both a positive and negative part for the parties involved. Often, as the issues are fairly emotive this can be beneficial for the parties. It increases the chances of an agreement being reached, which is the ultimate aim of both processes.
In both cases, suitably qualified lawyers are still required and have an important place in the process. Both a mediator and settlement counselor are there to support the process and help the parties to find an agreement. This can be helpful when the two parties just cannot agree and the lawyers are also struggling to come to some arrangement that all involved are happy with. Whatever the agreement is, it will require the legal paperwork being completed and this is where the lawyers are more than invaluable.
With both approaches, there is a degree of informality and trial and error type of approach. Whilst there are general guidelines and theories to follow, ultimately each case is unique. This is because each situation is completely different and in the family law case, each couple is different and will have different needs and wants. Similarly, both approaches try to find a solution for the two parties who in dispute over whatever issue is. Ideally, the process will avoid the need for more formal court based proceedings which can become particularly difficult in many cases. This is highly desired by both lawyers and often the parties involved, as the issues to be discussed are usually emotive and can be challenging.