MEDIATION - who decides?
Mediation has the greatest chance of success when everyone involved understands the process and what it can and cannot achieve. In fact, I would say this understanding is ESSENTIAL before anyone selects mediation as a potential method of resolving their family law dispute.
Mediation IS a dialogue between the parties, about family/family law issues they select for discussion. That dialogue is moderated by a neutral mediator - a person who has specific skills at facilitating, managing and “supervising” a discussion about the issues to be addressed. I say “supervising” because sometimes, these discussions can be uncomfortable - why? because the subject matter is not something the parties agree on and they are pretty set in their positions. So, as a mediation mentor of mine says, mediation is a comfortable place to have uncomfortable discussions.
What mediation IS NOT is a process in which the mediator makes any final decisions. A mediator simply does not have that power and if the parties at some point decide to give the mediator that decision-making authority, then the process is no longer mediation - it is either arbitration or parenting coordination, but those are subject for another blog post.
So WHO DECIDES about the issues which are being discussed and need to be resolved? It’s the parties themselves - in the case of parents disagreeing about issues related to their children, it is the parents themselves who have the power to make decisions about their own children - that is one of the strengths of the mediation process. In other words, they are giving themselves an opportunity to work through their differences, for their children’s sake, rather than handing those decisions over to a stranger, a Judge.