Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mediation In South Carolina - Is It Right For You?

Family court mediation involves a third party mediator who meets with and assists couples in reaching an agreement regarding any domestic disputes they may be having. Many counties in South Carolina require mediation in any contested family court case, such as divorce, child custody, property division or alimony. The mediator's role is not to decide what is best for the parties, but to facilitate discussion and dialog between the parties to help them work through the issues and hopefully reach an agreement. The mediator is there to listen and assist the parties in their decision making. However, the parties are the ones who decide what their agreement will be. The mediator can meet with the parties in the same room or can travel back and forth between the parties, whichever the parties are most comfortable with. The amount of time that it takes to mediate a can depends on the parties comfort level and the issues involved.
Certified mediators undergo training before attempting mediation. You can verify the mediator's certification before you start the process. Meeting with a mediator to discuss the issues that need to be resolved with your spouse can also be therapeutic, as often times, this is the best chance many people have for getting both personal and legal issues heard. It can be helpful for both parties to listen to the other's point of view, especially if there are children or custody is an issue. Often times when dealing with a divorce the parties are so winning or being right, that they lose sight of the big picture, their children. No matter how the case ends, if there are children, the parties will have to find a way to share their time. As mediation can make the court process a lot less stressful and scary for any children involved, this alone can make mediation a more attractive alternative.

Mediation can be a more economical and amicable solution to resolve family law matters such as child custody, property division, and alimony. It's always worth a try to consider mediation if you feel willing to compromise with your spouse to settle your legal disputes. Some reasonable give and take is necessary for mediation to work. However, mediation is not right for all family law cases, such as cases where there is domestic abuse or one or both of the parties are unwilling to compromise for the purpose of settlement. In these instances, mediation is rarely effective or worthwhile.

When meeting with a mediator, be prepared to list all the pending issues, as well as what you are willing to compromise. Finding a common ground with your spouse is the ultimate goal of mediation. Finding an attorney who is also a mediator can be even more helpful. The attorney is likely able to put any agreement reached in writing to be used in court when the parties finalize their case. Remember, mediation gives the parties way more control that the court system ever will. One of the advantages of mediation is the satisfaction of agreeing to a settlement versus being told what you will be required to do. So if you feel that you and your spouse may be able to compromise, give mediation a try. If it is clear that you don't see eye to eye, a divorce attorney is probably the best option.

If you have or are considering a family law or domestic case in South Carolina, contact a Mediator or Attorney today for advice specific to your case.

About the Author
M. Rita Metts is a Certified Family Court Mediator and licensed attorney with more than 15 years of family law experience in all areas, including divorce, custody, alimony, legal separation, adoption, and property division. Contact us for advice specific to your situation. Visit us at or or email

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