Family Mediation

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process in which a trained, neutral, mediator facilitates communication between the parties by providing each with an opportunity to listen and to be heard. Without deciding the issues, without providing legal advice, and without imposing a solution on the parties, the Mediator may enable the parties to acknowledge and understand each others underlying needs and interests and assist them in reaching an agreement. In Virginia, the mediation process is voluntary and confidential.

The mediators, even if licensed to practice law in Virginia, cannot serve as an attorney, give legal advice or file papers in court for any party.

Advantages of Mediation

  • Effective.

    More than 80% of all cases reach an agreement on some or all issues, especially when parties stay focused on their futures and not on past hurts and disappointments.

  • May save time
    and money.

    Parties are in control of their decisions—how often they meet, how quickly they exchange information and how cooperative they are with each other during negotiations.

  • Greater compliance.

    Parties are more likely to abide by an agreement that they help design.

  • Voluntary with parties in control of the outcome.

    Parties volunteer to mediate and contribute to reaching final agreements acceptable to all.

  • Decreases stress and disruptions.

    Mediation sessions are coordinated with your busy schedules. For efficiency, each meeting follows an agenda with the mediator facilitating the process.

  • Preserves or improves relationships.

    This is especially important with family cases where the parties may have on-going dealings with each other or with children or other family members.

  • Private and confidential.

    By statute, discussions and interactions during mediation are confidential, to encourage an honest discussion of facts, views and feelings. The resulting agreement, generally, is not confidential.

  • Improves skills for resolving disputes.

    An important goal of mediation is modeling problem-solving tools and skills, which parties may use should disputes arise in the future.

Additional Considerations

  • The mediator cannot provide legal advice or represent either party.
  • Each party should consult a settlement-minded attorney, such as a trained Collaborative attorney, to advise them before, during, and after mediation.
  • Mediation memorandums or agreements are legal contracts that affect your legal rights and obligations. Each party should consult an attorney before signing.
  • The mediator cannot file divorce, custody, support or other actions with the court. Parties will need attorneys to handle court filings or represent themselves (pro se).

"God gave us two ears and one mouth with which we may choose to listen twice as much as we speak. Mediation provides an opportunity to listen and an opportunity to be heard."

Cheryl Watson Smith, Esq.