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Process Options - Mediation

Mediation may be thought of as a process of facilitated negotiation. In mediation, the parties involve a neutral third party to assist them in reaching agreements. The parties communicate with one another directly in the presence of the mediator. The goal of mediation is to allow parties to reach voluntary settlement agreements that meet the needs of both parties. The mediator can provide information about the legal process and guide a discussion to help resolve issues. Unlike a judge or court commissioner, however, a mediator has no power to make decisions or impose any particular outcome. The mediator's role is limited to trying to help the parties themselves reach agreement.

"Custody mediation"

Wisconsin law requires that parties to a family law case in which there is a disagreement about custody or physical placement of a child must participate in mediation before proceeding to any contested hearings about the disputed issues. This is a specialized form of mediation and is typically provided by an agency affiliated with the circuit court in each county.

"Private mediation"

In appropriate circumstances, parties to a legal dispute can also choose to retain a private mediator to assist them in resolving the issues presented. If a private mediator is retained, the parties can use the process of mediation to resolve whatever they wish - they are not limited to just custody and placement issues as in the court-sponsored custody/placement mediation. The mediator may or may not be a lawyer, but in any event the mediator cannot and does not represent either party, and cannot provide legal advice to either. If the parties are successful in reaching an agreement in mediation, the parties or their attorneys therefore must still prepare the appropriate legal documents to implement or carry out the agreement.

We can become involved in cases in which mediation is used in one of two ways. We may represent a client who is participating in a mediation process, either because he or she has a dispute concerning custody or physical placement of a child and is therefore required to participate in custody mediation, or in a situation in which the client has chosen to use private mediation. In these situations, our role is to assist our client in pursuing mediation successfully, by providing legal advice, information and assistance while the mediation process is underway, and by assisting in preparing, entering and enforcing agreements reached in mediation.
In addition, we also provide mediation services. Attorney Mark Schubert from our office has extensive training and experience in a variety of forms of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, and is pleased to offer his services as a mediator in appropriate cases.

For more information about mediation and how it compares and contrasts with other forms of dispute resolution, please feel free to visit our dispute resolution options page, or contact us to schedule an initial consultation.