Family Law FAQ: What is late stage mediation?

Late-stage mediation is a last attempt before going to trial to settle a case out of court. Usually, the attorneys draft Mediation Summaries to present to the Mediator beforehand, setting out their client’s view of facts and the supporting legal issues in the case. On the day of mediation, the parties are separated into two rooms each with their attorney and the mediator shuffles back and forth trying to settle issues.

If the parties are not able to come to an agreement and if the parties request, the neutral third-party mediator may provide an opinion on the issues involved and the likely outcome of the case if it were to go to trial.  The judge is prevented from seeing this opinion and the mediator has no power to decide because the mediator is a neutral. 

Sometimes this works so that the parties get an idea of how the case might be decided by the judge.  Sometimes, if a mediator provides this information, it may be easier for the parties to come to agreement on terms in an effort to avoid the repugnance and expense of a full blown trial. 

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