In Clark County, Nevada if you are divorcing with children or going through a custody battle there is a very good chance you will end up at the Family Mediation Center (FMC) to attempt mediation with your ex. While mediation may seem like a nice idea, there are disadvantages to mediating custody and divorce cases especially in Clark County. Understanding the potential pitfalls of mediation should make you better prepared to mediate your case. Consider these pitfalls before attending mediation
Having an inexperienced mediator: Not all mediators are created equal. Unfortunately, having an inexperienced mediator can cost you time and money as well as lead to terrible results for your mediation. An inexperienced mediator will not understand the issues, will not know how to control the situation and will be ineffective in helping you reach a resolution. If you find that your mediator is inexperienced, you may want to ask for another mediator or perhaps end the mediation altogether. If you decide to try mediation with an experienced mediator, make sure you have properly prepared yourself for mediation, that you know your rights and know what you want to achieve from mediation.
Not having an attorney present at FMC: In Clark County, FMC does not generally allow attorneys to participate in mediation. As a result, many mediators give legal advice to litigants, even though they are not supposed to. Many times, the legal advice is just dead wrong. If you do not understand the law, or if you feel more comfortable having your attorney present for mediation, simply decline FMC mediation OR ask for a private mediation where your lawyer can be present.
No judge is present: Part of the litigation process and having events occur before a judge is to ensure that both parties to litigation operate on a level playing field. In mediation, there is no judge present and I have had clients tell me that it felt like a free for all, that they were ganged up on by the mediator or that their ex brought up events that were embarrassing and harassing. Unfortunately, in mediation there are really no rules and without a judge, it is up to the mediator to keep the peace.
Increased Time and Expense In Litigation: Often times mediation does not work and the parties know it will not work at the outset of their case. In these situations, clients need to be vocal and insist that mediation is a waste of time and money. Otherwise, parties can find themselves having to attend multiple hearings to discuss the results of mediation which ends up delaying the case and costing more in attorney’s fees. Again, if you know that mediation isn’t for you, speak up and save yourself the time and expense of what will likely be a failed mediation.
Even if you reach an agreement in mediation your case is not over: In Clark County, Nevada our mediation center is only able to mediate custody. As a result, many other items such as child support, health insurance and division of assets and debts are not discussed in mediation. This means that even if you can successfully negotiate custody, you will still need to see a judge and pay a lawyer to talk about finances and dividing your assets and debts. Again, this can take additional time and additional money and further delay your case.
In our opinion, despite the pitfalls referenced here, mediation can helpful in some cases. Being properly prepared for mediation is the key. Please consider our other articles on this subject and if you or someone you know needs assistance in their family court case, call us today at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form for more information.