Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or settling disputes outside of court. Mediation is available in all civil cases, but is especially prevalent in domestic relations cases.

Mediation involves 3 people: the 2 interested parties and a neutral third-party (the mediator). The mediator facilitates communication between the parties in order to reach an agreement based upon their own terms. The mediator also draws on his/her professional skill and experience to keep the discussion within the bounds of the law and common outcomes.

Within domestic relations cases, mediation usually addresses parenting issues (custody, visitation, health, education, religion, general parenting & communication), as opposed to economic issues (child support, spousal support, property division, or expenses associated with daycare, school, or healthcare). Although economic issues may be addressed, any agreement is generally unenforceable unless it is entered by the court.

If mediation is unsuccessful, the parties will have to consider taking further action in court.  In that case, any statements made by the parties during mediation remain confidential with the mediator and the statements are not admissible in court.   This encourages the parties to discuss their issues fully, openly, and candidly without fear of having their words used against them.

Mediation sessions typically last 1 hour.  If the parties are unable to reach full agreement in the first session, but feel that progress is being made, then 1-2 more sessions may be necessary.

Mediation is faster and cheaper than litigation.  Parties usually split the cost of mediation (50-50), instead of each paying their own attorney.  The parties have more control over their schedule, since it is not dependent on the court or their attorneys.