Resolving divorce and custody disputes in family court is expensive, stressful, time-consuming, and emotionally draining for all involved. Outcomes in family court system are also unpredictable as a result of an overstretched court system and indifferent judges. Thankfully, there is an alternative. Cooley & Handy’s Custody & Divorce Mediation Practice provides families with a practical way to resolve their disputes outside the court system in a mutually satisfactory manner.
Mediation is a process in which a third party, such as an attorney, facilitates voluntarily negotiations between parties to resolve their disputes outside of the court system. Compared to the family court system, mediation is more informal, future-oriented, and strives to be cooperative and fair. There are numerous potential benefits to resolving divorce and custody disputes through mediation rather than the family court system. First, mediation provides a less adversarial forum, reducing the parties’ stress and animosity towards one another, helping to facilitate settlements. Second, mediation can produce significant cost savings to the parties, with reduced or eliminated attorney and court involvement. Finally, mediation can produce more satisfactory results, because the parties have more control over the process and the outcome, and greater compliance with the resulting agreements.
Mediation, however, is not practical or appropriate for all divorce and custody cases. For example, mediation is unlikely to work if one party is especially hostile or vindictive, or is particularly resistant to the separation or divorce. Similarly, mediation is impractical where one party has significant mental or emotional issues. If you have questions about whether mediation is a viable option in your case, please call us to discuss your particular situation, free of charge.
Cooley & Handy offers several different types of divorce and custody mediation, including facilitative mediation, evaluative mediation and transformative mediation. In facilitative mediation, the mediator assists the parties in reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement, but does not make a decisions or recommendations as to the content of the agreement. In evaluative mediation, the mediator may give his or her opinion as to what might happen in court and/or make recommendations as to the outcome of the case. In transformative mediation, the parties control not only the outcome of their case, but also the process by which they reach an agreement. The types of mediation, however, are not necessarily rigid and most actual mediation will incorporate at least some elements of all three.
As an alternate to mediation, Cooley & Handy also offers binding arbitration services in divorce cases involving support, alimony and/or equitable distribution claims. In binding arbitration, an attorney from Cooley & Handy essentially acts as a neutral private judge for the parties and will gather and/or receive evidence in the case concerning the parties’ assets, incomes and other relevant facts and will issue legally binding decisions concerning the issues in the case, including support, alimony, and equitable distribution.
If you are interested in exploring mediation or arbitration through one of Cooley & Handy formally trained and experienced custody and divorce mediators, please contact our office at 215-345-8000 for more information. Cooley & Handy provides custody and divorce mediation services in Bucks County, Montgomery County & Philadelphia County cases.