Mediation 

Ohio family lawyer Melissa Graham-Hurd offers mediation services to persons who are ending their relationship and are seeking to find a better way to resolve their issues.  Attorney Melissa Graham-Hurd believes in interest-based negotiations, seeking to achieve desired results, rather than from a position-based stalemate.  She helps to guide mediation clients together toward a win-win solution to their family problems.  When you reach the point of terminating your marriage or ending your relationship, you need experienced counsel to assist you in finding the best solutions to hard problems.

What is Mediation?

In mediation, a neutral third party assists the disputing parties in finding their own mutually acceptable solution to the disagreement. Unlike the court process, the agreement making process in mediated negotiation is centered on the parties themselves.  The parties agree to negotiated terms, making all of the decisions themselves.  Mediation, like negotiation, seeks solutions so both sides “win” in the agreement.  This empowers the parties to the dispute because it places the responsibility for problem-solving and decision-making in their own hands and not in the hands of the Court.

Agreements made during mediation cannot entirely replace the formal divorce decree handed down by a judge, because mediators cannot grant a divorce.  The Agreement reached can determine what the decree will say about property, debts, support and all of the children’s issues, including support, parenting time, decision-making and custody.

Mediation is a cooperative and voluntary process.  As in negotiation, neither party can be forced to come to an agreement or to keep negotiating.  Often, it is beneficial that each party is forced to take a role in the dispute resolution rather than hiding behind an intermediary who is a committed advocate.

The Role of the Mediator

The mediator helps the parties in defining the issues at hand, gives them basic information about the legal system they are involved in, helps them discuss their issues in an orderly and civil manner, and encourages them to evaluate how proposed solutions would work.  Mediators do not serve as advocates for either side of the dispute, nor do mediators provide legal advice.  Also, the mediator is not the decision-maker.  Instead, mediators facilitate orderly, purposeful and organized communication between the disputing parties.

The mediator is not a judge, financial counselor, therapist, or friend.  Rather, the mediator’s task is a specific one: to help the parties come to a mutually acceptable agreement if possible.

The mediator’s main tasks are to:

  • Organize the process and clarify the rules
  • Facilitate effective communication
  • Assist in defining relevant issues and priorities
  • Guide exploration of consequences
  • Record agreements in a provisional writing, pending full legal advice

A mediator cannot:

  • Provide any legal advice
  • Provide counseling, therapy, etc.
  • Impose a decision on the conflicting parties.  That’s known as “arbitration”.

As a mediator, Melissa Graham-Hurd acts as a neutral who helps the parties define the issues and assists them in discussing and resolving them in a calm and dignified manner.  A mediator cannot take the role of an attorney, because mediation and legal representation are two separate roles.  If you are seeking mediation services from Ms. Graham-Hurd, she cannot speak with just one party at the beginning, and she cannot be a lawyer for either side.  Agreements made in a mediation session and written by a mediator should be reviewed by your own lawyer who will complete the decree granting process.

Mediation Process

The mediator lays out the ground rules in the first meeting.  Mediation can take anywhere from two meetings to several meetings over the course of several weeks.  It all depends on the progress, the attitude of the parties, the desire of the parties to keep trying, and the complexity of issues to be resolved.

If a full agreement or partial agreement is reached, Melissa Graham-Hurd will, as mediator, memorialize the agreement in a Memorandum of Understanding, which is then adapted by the parties or their attorneys as a Judgment Entry for filing in court.  Even partial agreements can assist in narrowing the contested issues.

Advantages of Mediation (when done right):

  • Convenient
  • Voluntary
  • Confidential
  • Helps power to be balanced and shared
  • Quicker resolution than litigation
  • Often cost effective
  • Can restore/improve existing relationships
  • Based on interests, and not positions
  • Parties have control and responsibility of the process and outcome, unlike a court process

Mediation Should Not Be Used In All Situations

Despite the fact that many cases are settled effectively through mediation, certain situations exist in which mediation would only further existing conflicts or create new ones.  Such situations exist when:

  • One party uses threats, violence or physical intimidation techniques against the other;
  • Parties withhold important information that affects the issues they are negotiating;
  • Either party is unwilling to disclose goals in the negotiation;
  • Drug or alcohol impairment or mental illness prevents a full understanding of the issues by either side; or
  • Either party is unable to assert his or her basic needs or concerns because of fear, habits of deference, or some other impediment.

When you are faced with difficult family issues and seek help resolving them, turning to mediation and being guided through the process by someone who understands the issues and ramifications, is a sensible and sane method. Family law attorney Melissa Graham-Hurd has the experience, knowledge and patience needed to assist you in resolving your family issues in a rational and insightful way. 

THIS INFORMATION IS INTENDED TO BE A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF MEDIATION AND IS NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE ON YOUR PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES.  IT IS ONLY INTENDED TO ASSIST YOU IN UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS.

IF YOU SHOULD HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL THE OFFICE TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT – 330-996-4099.