The terms of some divorces are agreed to by the parties or hashed out between the parties’ attorneys or at an informal settlement conference.
When all of these strategies fail, the parties usually seek a trial date from the court at a pretrial conference.
The Court sets the trial date at the conference, and sets other deadlines such as by when parties must conduct mediation. Many courts require the parties to make a good faith attempt at mediation before trial.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process that is usually successful in divorces and other family law matters. It involves the parties sitting in different rooms with their attorneys while a skilled mediator goes between the rooms with offers and counteroffers to help parties reach a settlement.
Mediation may be the first time that an unreasonable client is told that his or her positions will be untenable before the court. Or it may just help parties going through an emotional process to reach a settlement in a fair process with help from a neutral mediator.
When an agreement is reached in mediation, all parties sign a binding agreement that cannot be revoked. If mediation fails, the parties resume preparing for trial.
Mediations can be half a day or a full day. Mediation is usually more cost effective than a trial, and agreements made through mediation help the parties preserve their relationship as opposed to a more protracted and adversarial litigation process and trial where the court imposes an outcome on the parties.