Mediation – A necessary and important part of the Family Court process

According to recent census data, Jefferson County, including the city of Louisville, Kentucky, has about 750,000 residents. At the same time, the Jefferson County Circuit Court, Family Division has just 10 judges to hear all of the family law actions in this county. That’s one judge for 75,000 potential people, who may come before the Family Court on cases involving divorce, custody, child support, domestic violence/EPOs, child abuse, paternity, adoptions, and other types of matters.

The sheer number of cases coming before the Family Court each year means crowded dockets and long wait times for litigants seeking their day in Court.

One tool becoming increasingly common in the arsenal of Family Court judges is mediation. In essence, mediation is a conference involving (1) all parties to an action, (2) the parties’ attorneys, and (3) a mediator.

The mediator’s role is to act as a neutral facilitator helping the parties reach a settlement. Of course, if a settlement is reached outside of court the case comes off the judge’s busy docket, while the parties benefit by virtue of the process often being less ­expensive than drawn­ out court battle, less time ­consuming, and less adversarial.

Another benefit of mediation is that each party has a say in how THEIR case is resolved, whereas if the parties submit their dispute to a judge, it is the judge making the decision based upon the limited information that comes into evidence during the formal process of a trial. It is important to note that many Family Court judges will not schedule a trial date until mediation has been attempted.

Local mediator Chris Harrell recommends that lawyers prepare their clients for mediation by thoroughly explaining the process. Harrell employs this information sheet, which actually serves as a comprehensive overview of the process.

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The Family Law attorneys of The Gailor Law Office, PLLC – Jason Dattilo and Andrew Gailor – have prior relationships with many local mediators and are experienced in this component of a Family Law case. If you have any questions about mediation or any other Family Law issue, please do not hesitate to call today.

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