A family law mediator’s main objective is to mediate the issues a family has and come to a decision beneficial to the parties, especially if there are children involved. Most mediators are attorneys but some are other professionals certified in family dispute resolution. Many cases a family law mediator handles concern divorce, child custody and support issues.
One responsibility that a family law mediator has is acting as a family counselor in cases where the couple is having trouble getting along but do not want to get divorced. This type of mediation is called family counseling mediation. The mediator has to listen to the parties and get to the real issue causing the conflict in the marriage. Common issues include grief over the loss of a child, relationship issues, and behavioral changes from outside influences. In these cases, the mediator will listen to the couple's complaints, speak with other children in the family, and most likely recommend the couple see a therapist and return to the mediator.
Another task the family law mediator has is to mediate situations where the couple is already convinced a divorce is in their best interest. The parties may need legal guidance on matters such as property division and child custody. In most of these cases, the couple already has their own attorneys who advise the mediator what their client wants from the divorce. The mediator reviews documents concerning joint assets, debts and salary information as well as expenses incurred on behalf of the child. The mediator may meet with the couple for several sessions to come up with an agreement for the parties before submitting the document to a family court judge for approval.
Additional duties a family court mediator may perform include working with court programs such as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Programs like ADR appoint mediators to assist families who may not be able to afford a family law attorney or who have disputes that were not resolved prior to court. The family law mediator receives an appointment to mediate the case from the court and has to notify the parties involved of the time, date and location for mediation. If the parties are unable to attend the mediation, the mediator will have to reschedule the mediation.
Other steps a family law mediator has to take when mediating a case include filing agreements with the court, corresponding with the parties about case updates, and sending the judge the mediation reports. The mediator has to perform accounting duties consisting of billing mediation time and sending invoices to clients. Mediators also have to attend training seminars and classes to keep current on family law issues and related jurisdictional regulations.