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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Custody and Visitation in Virginia Part 4: Get a Mediator

     Mediators are an essential tool in the custody and visitation process. Using these people effectively can mean the difference between a $30,000 lawyer bill and a $1,000 bill. Lawyers are there to assist clients in working through the overly complex paperwork, arguments, standards, and judges that come along with the law. Mediators are there to limit the number of arguments that are brought out in front of the court. Agreements reached while working with a mediator are not necessarily binding, but may still play an important part in your case.

     I often make the recommendation to my clients that they should seek the services of a qualified mediator before seeking a contested divorce or a contested custody and visitation case. When parties cannot come to an agreement, this often results in the attorneys for both sides sending passive aggressive e-mails back and forth. This tends to drive up the bill that clients will receive at the end of the litigation.

     There are two ways a person can find a mediator to help them; court appointment and private mediation. There are plenty of private mediation firms in Virginia that will sit down with you and listen to the concerns of both sides. A court appointed mediator can usually be obtained by asking the attorney representing you to file for one.

     Once you obtain a mediator, the process is simple. Both sides and their attorneys will sit down with a mediator to discuss the issues that they are most concerned about. Mediators will listen to both sides in a fair and objective manner. They will try to reach an agreement by both sides. Once an agreement is reached, the parties can ask the court, through their attorney, to make that meditation agreement part of the final order.

     When you are considering filing for custody or visitation of your child, make sure to look for a mediator first. Ask your attorney if they know of any good mediators that can help with your case. Again, a mediator can save you an extremely large attorney bill.

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