Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that allows litigants to reach an agreement to their issues in an informal setting, through the help of a neutral third-party, known as a mediator.
In South Carolina, mediation is commonly used to resolve legal disputes, including Family Court issues. In many South Carolina Counties, parties are required to attempt to resolve their disputes through the mediation process prior to requesting a final hearing.
Mediators are generally experienced attorneys who have received additional training focused on mediation. As neutrals, mediators are ethically prohibited from offering legal advice to the parties. The cost of the mediation process varies and is generally split by the parties.
During mediation, the parties and their respective attorneys gather together to try and figure out a solution to the various issues of the case. Depending on the mediator’s preference, the parties can either meet in the same room or the mediator can go back and forth between separate rooms. In most family law cases tensions are such that separate rooms are preferred.
Ultimately it is up to the parties as to whether or not an agreement is reached. The mediator is only there to facilitate the negotiations and perhaps offer perspectives based on their experiences. No one can be forced into reaching an agreement during a mediation and everything shared during the mediation is prohibited from being introduced later at a trial.
Mediation is generally the litigants one and only chance to have a say-so in the ultimate resolution of their issues and thus their futures. The parties generally are encouraged to compromise on the issues that they may have some flexibility on. During mediation, creative solutions are often explored outside of what a Court may order after a costly trial.
At the Fender Law Firm, we have skillfully represented many clients during the mediation process. In our experience, mediation is a valuable tool in helping our client reach their goals.