Birmingham Divorce Mediation Attorneys 

Because our Alabama divorce and Family Court systems are overburdened, the State of Alabama and local Birmingham and Shelby County judges encourage people to attempt to settle their problems outside of the courtroom by using varying forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR.) Mediation is a specific type of ADR and is a process that can be either court-ordered or voluntary.

Mediation Can Save Time and Money

While not all disputes are appropriate for mediation, this alternative can be a means to speed up the resolution process by keeping the case out of the courtroom. Cases that can be resolved using the mediation process are far less costly than traditional litigation and divorce trials.

The Process of Mediation

To begin the process, both individuals meet with a Mediator who will facilitate an open dialogue between the parties. As a neutral third party, the Mediator will empower the individuals to communicate, identify the issues and openly express their feelings in a respectful manner. As mediation progresses toward a mutually agreed upon goal, and if both the parties can agree on a solution to the problems at hand, an agreement is written and signed by the Mediator and the individuals involved. Before signing any agreement, the parties have the option to have the mediation agreement reviewed by their separate attorneys, because the agreement may result in a binding contract that is enforceable in a court of law.

Mediation Works!

Mediation provides the opportunity for both parties to agree on a solution through communication, negotiation and compromise. Mediation results in solutions that both parties have created and statistics prove that mediation works!
Mediation FAQ’s

How does mediation work?
Parties who mediate meet with a neutral third-party. The parties may meet in the same room or can choose to be separated, with the mediator shuttling between them. Generally, the parties may negotiate virtually all the ground rules of the mediation, what issues will be addressed, who will attend, and every other aspect of the mediation. The mediator’s tasks include providing information the parties need to make decisions about their agreement and helping the parties brainstorm solutions. While the mediator does not represent either party or provide legal advice, the mediator can provide legal information, which may give the parties an idea how their case will be treated in court. The mediator may also act as a counselor to help the parties determine what each of them wants in the agreement. This information often helps parties negotiate their own solutions.

Can I still use an attorney?
Yes. Like most aspects of mediation, you control the process. You have a right to legal counsel in every element of your life, and this is not taken away just because you are mediating. Whether attorneys will actually participate in a specific mediation session is open for agreement by the parties. If one party insists they will attend while the other insists they won’t, mediation may not be possible. But because the mediator cannot give you legal advice, you may want an attorney involved, either as part of the mediation or as a reference outside the mediation. Or you can choose not to use an attorney at all.

Is the outcome binding?
Only if you come to an agreement. While there have been cases that turned on this question, generally, if you enter into a signed agreement, the court will likely enforce it. However, you should always ask to have any agreement reviewed by your attorney before you sign it. If you don’t come to an agreement, not only is everything in the mediation discussions not binding, it cannot even be admitted into evidence in court. This rule is to assure the participants they are safe to make suggestions and brainstorm ideas without fearing they will be held to them later, unless they are signed.

How long will mediation take and what will it cost?
Most mediations take much less time than most people think and the average mediation for a typical divorce takes between two and six hours. This may be done at one time, or it may be divided over several sessions.

When can mediation occur in process?
At any time—before any papers are filed, during the paperwork process, or just before a court date. The point is, a settlement negotiated between the parties is almost always more acceptable to both parties than an outcome decided by the Court. The best time for mediation is anytime the parties are ready to settle.

Scheduling an Appointment for Mediation
To schedule an appointment for mediation, contact Harwell Law Firm LLC at (205) 980-1445 or on line by using our intake form.