Every family is unique, and every family law dispute is different, so it should be no surprise that there may be many different ways to resolve a New Mexico family law case. The best path forward depends on your specific situation. Some cases can be resolved at the negotiating table, others wind up going to trial. Somewhere in the middle of those two options is mediation.
Mediation is a popular way to resolve everything from child custody disputes to disagreements over the division of property in a divorce. It is done outside the courtroom, but has a bit more structure and formality than a standard negotiation, making it ideal for resolving high-stakes disputes that you would prefer to keep out of the public eye.
At Matteucci Family Law, Attorney Bob Matteucci will listen to your story and help you determine if mediation may be right for you and your family.
What is Family Law Mediation In New Mexico?
Mediation is a professionally facilitated negotiation designed to help the parties in a family law case come to an agreement they can all live with, and the court will approve. It is more structured than a standard negotiation but less formal than a court proceeding.
The process is overseen by a neutral third party known as a mediator. The mediator has no stake in the outcome of the case, and may not impose his or her own will on the parties as a judge can.
The mediator’s job is to facilitate open and honest discussion of the issues so they can potentially be resolved. In order for this to happen, the parties involved must agree that all conversations that happen during mediation remain confidential. That means neither side can use the opposing party’s statements against them later if mediation fails.
For example, say the other parent offers you overnight visitation of three nights per week during a custody mediation. But you can’t come to an agreement, and end up going to court. You cannot tell the judge that the other party previously offered you three nights when they now want to limit you to two. Confidentiality is an important protection for both parties because it allows you to talk frankly as you explore possible outcomes.
Mediation can take place over the course of one afternoon, or span multiple days. It is up to the parties to decide if a mediation is worthwhile and if it should continue. The parties also decide what issues should be mediated, and what should be left for a court to resolve. For example, some families ask a mediator for help creating a child custody agreement but ask the court to decide how their property should be divided up.
What Happens At The End of a Mediation in Albuquerque?
If your mediation is successful, the mediator will draft a written document spelling out whatever you and the other parties involved in the case have agreed to. Legal paperwork formalizing the agreement will then be submitted to the court for the judge’s review. If the judge approves, it will then be incorporated into a court order.
If your mediation is not successful, then you are back to square one. You can try to hire a different mediator, try to come to an agreement without a mediator, or go to court. The mediator you previously worked with cannot be involved in your case going forward. And as noted above, conversations and offers made during the mediation remain confidential and cannot be presented as evidence in future court proceedings.
What Are The Benefits Based On New Mexico Law?
No one understands your case better than you and your former partner. Mediation allows you and your former partner to tell your story, and find some middle ground you can both live with.
It is much less risky than going to court and having a stranger who doesn’t know you – the judge – make decisions on your behalf. A judge will never know your whole story because that is not how courts typically work, but he or she will make decisions that will affect your and your family’s lives for years to come.
Because mediation focuses on finding an amicable solution to even the most bitter disputes, it can be much cheaper and quicker than litigation. Scheduling a mediation is quicker than getting on a court’s docket. And prepping for mediation is much less difficult than building a case to present to a judge. Both of these factors can save you time and money.
Mediation can also help you effectively communicate with your former partner going forward. Laying everything on the table, and working through your differences in mediation, can help to clear the air and give you a better understanding of what your former partner expects and values. This is especially beneficial in cases where children are involved. After your case is settled, you will have to co-parent even though you live in separate households. It is much easier to do so if you and the other parent can learn to work together.
Is Mediation Right For My Case?
Attorney Bob Matteucci recommends mediation in family law cases where both parties are committed to finding a solution that will allow them to move forward with their lives.
Mediation is generally not recommended in:
- High-conflict matters
- Matters in which the parties are unable or unwilling to communicate with each other
- Cases involving allegations of domestic violence or child abuse
- Cases in which one party is suspected of hiding assets or information from the other
- Matters in which there is a major imbalance of power (e.g. financial resources) between the parties
- Cases in which one party psychologically dominates or manipulates the other
Attorney Bob Matteucci can help you decide if mediation or another means of dispute resolution would be best in your unique situation.
Is there a downside to mediation?
Here are some of the potential downsides of mediation:
- Not all cases are suitable for mediation. Mediation is not appropriate for cases involving domestic violence, substance abuse, or other power imbalances. It is also not appropriate for cases where one party is unwilling to negotiate or compromise.
- Mediation is a voluntary process. Both parties must agree to participate in mediation and to abide by the outcome of the process. If either party is unwilling to cooperate, mediation will not be successful.
- Mediation can be time-consuming and emotionally draining. It can take several sessions to reach an agreement, and the process can be difficult, especially if there are strong emotions involved.
- Mediation is not binding. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement in mediation, they may still need to go to court to resolve their dispute.
Despite these potential downsides, mediation is a valuable tool for families going through divorce or other family law disputes. Mediation can help families to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of their dispute in a timely and cost-effective manner. It can also help families to preserve their relationships and to create a co-parenting plan that is in the best interests of their children.
If you are considering mediation, it is important to talk to a family mediation lawyer to learn more about the process and to determine if it is right for you.
How do I prepare myself for mediation?
- Understand what mediation is. Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral third party, the mediator, helps the parties to a dispute reach a mutually agreeable resolution. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties, but rather helps them to communicate and negotiate effectively.
- Be clear about your goals. What do you hope to achieve through mediation? Once you know your goals, you can develop a strategy for achieving them.
- Gather information. The more information you have about your situation, the better prepared you will be to negotiate. This includes information about your finances, your children, and your desired parenting arrangements.
- Be prepared to compromise. It is unlikely that you will get everything you want in mediation. Be prepared to compromise and negotiate in good faith.
- Work with an experienced family mediation lawyer. A good family mediation lawyer can help you to understand your legal rights and options, and present creative solutions to tough issues that can arise in mediation.
Here are some additional tips that may be helpful:
- Be prepared to listen to the other party. It is important to hear the other party’s perspective, even if you disagree with it.
- Be respectful. Even if you are angry or upset, it is important to treat the other party with respect.
- Be patient. Mediation can be a challenging process, but it is important to be patient and persistent.
Here are some things you can bring to mediation:
- Financial documents, such as tax returns, pay stubs, and bank statements
- Asset and debt inventories
- Parenting plans
- Any other relevant documents
Contact A New Mexico Family Law Mediation Attorney Today!
Family law cases are never simple because the stakes involved are so high. Mediation gives you a chance to tell your story and find common ground with your former partner instead of putting your family’s fate in the hands of a stranger.
It is a unique process that may fit your needs, and save you time and money. If you are interested in mediating your family law case Attorney Bob Matteucci is ready to listen to your story, and advise you of your options. Please contact Matteucci Family Law to set up an initial meeting.
Matteucci Family Law Firm helps families with family law mediation matters all across New Mexico including Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Los Lunas, and Rio Rancho.