Today we’re here to talk about mediation in Virginia, specifically related to divorce and child custody and visitation. One of the first things you need to know and understand is that mediation is completely outside of the scope of the courts, meaning what you discuss in mediation is confidential with a couple of exceptions. The style and approach of mediation is going to be different, and it’s not going to be the same as having an attorney. For example, your mediator is a facilitator, which means that the mediator cannot give you legal advice. Even if the mediator has a law degree, they cannot give you legal advice, and the mediator will help guide the conversation, will provide examples of what they’ve seen, what other clients have done, but a mediator cannot tell you that something is right for you. Again, that would fall in the realm of legal advice.
If you want somebody to tell you what’s right for you, then you should hire an attorney. But with a mediator, you have a lot of freedom, meaning that you can agree to things that aren’t typically possible in the court realm. For example, you could agree to a schedule for sharing time with your children that’s different than what most people do. You could agree to a division of assets as part of your divorce that’s different than what the court has the authority to award. And because of this, a lot of people like mediation. It’s also a place where you can be open and honest and you can discuss things around a table. Personally, I really enjoy that aspect of it because it helps preserve your relationship going forward, even though you are getting a divorce and even though you might be separating as parents. However, mediation is really a wonderful, wonderful way to help try to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner and to reach a resolution.