For most people, the prospect of going to court is unpleasant, perhaps even frightening. Domestic Relations court hearings, with emotionally charged issues such as the determination of parental rights and responsibilities or the amount of child support to be paid, can be a difficult experience. Experts seeking ways to eliminate the adversarial "win/lose" atmosphere of traditional court proceedings have long advocated the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation to help parties settle their differences. The parties may choose a qualified private mediator. Wood County Court has its own mediator who may be available to parties in litigation, however he may not be readily available. A party may request to go to mediation or the court may order mediation if it appears that it would be beneficial to the family.
If parties are dealing with contested issues during or after the divorce proceedings, mediation may be scheduled with a mediator. The mediator is an attorney who is trained in mediation. In an informal atmosphere, the mediator serves as a facilitator to help parties clarify the issues in dispute, identify possible options to resolve the dispute, and develop a workable plan for the resolution of the dispute, if appropriate. The mediator will not make decisions for the parties, will not take the side of one party or the other, and will not tell the parties what to do to resolve their dispute. If the parties are able to arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution to the contested issues, the agreement will be prepared by the mediator or one of the attorneys and signed by the parties and the mediator. The mediation agreement is not binding on the parties, however, until approved by the parties’ attorneys (if any) and the judge or magistrate assigned to the case.