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Using family mediation as a tool to address family law issues

When parents in Rhode Island seek to separate or divorce, they often have numerous decisions to make regarding their child or children. This often leads to more complicated family law issues such as child support or custody arrangements. Depending on the circumstances and the situation at hand, parents seek different methods to address and solve these issues. In some matters, parents might turn to family mediation. Those considering this option to solve their family law issues should understand the process in order to determine whether it is the appropriate process for them.

First, people should know it is a method that allows both parties to meet privately with a neutral third party whose goal is to help them to reach a voluntary agreement on the issue or issues at hand. The success of this method is often dependent on the participant's willingness to work cooperatively in the process.

The mediator's primary goal is to help with the discussion of the issues, explore the available options and resolve these differences in order to reach a final agreement on the matter or matter before the court. With regards to disputes related to children, a mediator can help parents design a parenting plan that addresses the needs of the parents as well as the best interest of the children.

There are many benefits to the process. For example, the parties, instead of a judge, determine the final agreement. It is often less costly than litigation and can be less time-consuming. In addition, the process is private, promotes improved communication, models a more cooperative decision-making process and can help reduce conflicts between parents. These factors do not only benefit the parents but can also greatly benefit their children.

Dealing with family law issues can be difficult to deal with and can be challenging to navigate. Whether they decide to use the method of mediation to address their divorce or post-divorce issues or another method, it is important that they understand their options so they can take appropriate action to solve their issues.

Source: Rhode Island Family Court, "Rhode Island Family Court Mediation Program," accessed on Jan. 12, 2015

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