In many civil disputes or cases of divorce, mediation is a very effective manner to resolve conflict between two parties. However, there are also instances when mediation may not be appropriate. In Virginia, mediation is not mandatory. Each judge has discretion to refer disputing parties to a dispute resolution orientation session, but the Judge cannot order mediation. The disputing parties themselves must voluntarily decide to go through mediation.
Is Mediation Required by Virginia Law?
No, Virginia law does not require mediation in civil cases. However, judges may recommend it. Virginia Code Section 8.01-576.5 authorizes judges to refer civil matters to what is called a “dispute resolution orientation session.” This is not mediation per se but an informational discussion for the parties to learn potential methods of resolving their dispute. This session is free and not mandatory – the parties may opt out of it.
In divorce cases in Virginia, the judge might recommend the divorcing couple to mediate first before proceeding to litigation. A mediated divorce saves time and money for the couple as well as the court. Mediation is also a less antagonistic way of resolving divorce conflicts, and this can be important when family relationships are involved.
Should I Mediate My Case?
Though mediation is generally useful in the majority of divorces and civil disputes, you should still discern its pros and cons for your specific case.
Mediation is appropriate and helpful if:
- Both parties are willing to attempt to cooperate.
- Both parties wish to maintain their personal or business connection.
- The resolution is best decided by the parties, not the judge. (For example, it may be ideal for parents themselves to make decisions about child custody and child support.)
- There is a need to avoid trial due to personal reasons. (For instance, if children are involved and could suffer emotional harm from a courtroom trial.)
- There is a need to avoid trial or litigation to keep case details confidential. (Litigated cases are usually entered into public record.)
Mediation may not be appropriate if:
- There is an imbalance of bargaining power between the disputing parties.
- There is a history of abuse, such that it’s best for the victim to keep away from the abuser.
- The public should have information about the case or its potential resolution. (For example, if the case could lead to the development of a new law).
It’s best to get case-specific legal advice when deciding on mediation. Speak with an attorney or mediator who has experience in cases like yours.
Consult an Experienced Virginia Mediator
Whether you need divorce mediation, business mediation, or family mediation in Virginia, trust the experienced mediators and attorneys at Holcomb Law, P.C. Your consultation with us is confidential. Call Holcomb Law, P.C. at (757) 656-1000 today.