What is Mediation?

Mediation is a confidential process that includes both parents and a neutral trained professional, designed to help parents come to agreements on the children’s issues in a divorce or parentage case. The mediator helps parents to communicate and resolve issues about custody and parenting time. The in-house mediators at our court only deal with the children’s issues, not with financial issues. Summit County has a number of attorney mediators in the community who can assist couples with the financial issues as well.

The mediation is confidential, meaning that nothing that is discussed in the mediation meeting can be testified to in court, and the mediator cannot be called a witness. The exceptions to this rule are: (1 the mediator is lead to believe that a child is being abused or neglected; (2 the mediator is lead to believe that a party is going to harm themselves, harm the other party, or harm a 3rd party; (3 the party is planning to commit, or in the process of committing a felony, and shares that knowledge with the mediator.

If parties come to an agreement, the mediator writes out a Memorandum of Understanding of the issues the parties agree on. That MOU is then submitted to the court or to the attorneys for the parties. The parties also receive a copy.


What are the benefits of Mediation?

  • Cost— The Court’s In-House mediation programs are covered by your filing fees. While an outside mediator may charge a fee comparable to that of an attorney, the mediation process generally takes much less time than moving a case through standard legal channels. While a case in the hands of a lawyer or a court may take months or years to resolve, mediation usually achieves a resolution in a matter of hours. Taking less time means expending less money on hourly fees and costs.
  • Confidentiality—While court hearings are public, mediation remains strictly confidential. No one but the parties to the dispute and the mediator(s) know what happened. Confidentiality in mediation has such importance that in most cases the legal system cannot force a mediator to testify in court as to the content or progress of mediation. Many mediators destroy their notes taken during a mediation once that mediation has finished. The only exceptions to such strict confidentiality usually involve child abuse or actual or threatened criminal acts.
  • Control—Mediation increases the control the parties have over the resolution. In a court case, the parties obtain a resolution, but control resides with the judge or jury. Often, a judge or jury cannot legally provide solutions that emerge in mediation. Thus, mediation is more likely to produce a result that is mutually agreeable for the parties.
  • Compliance—Because the result is attained by the parties working together and is mutually agreeable, compliance with the mediated agreement is usually high. This further reduces costs, because the parties do not have to employ an attorney to force compliance with the agreement. The mediated agreement is, however, fully enforceable in a court of law.
  • Mutuality—Parties to a mediation are typically ready to work mutually toward a resolution. In most circumstances the mere fact that parties are willing to mediate means that they are ready to “move” their position. The parties thus are more amenable to understanding the other party’s side and work on underlying issues to the dispute. This has the added benefit of often preserving the relationship the parties had before the dispute.
  • Support—Mediators are trained in working with difficult situations. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator and guides the parties through the process. The mediator helps the parties think “outside of the box” for possible solutions to the dispute, broadening the range of possible solutions.