What Are the Advantages of Mediation in Family Law Cases Involving Children  Term Paper

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Mediation in family law cases is recognized as a viable alternative to the courtroom because it has proven to work effectively in most cases if both parties make a reasonable effort to solve their disputes. Approximately 98% of family law cases settle without the need to proceed to trial. The mediator, an unbiased third party who does not represent either party, will listen to both sides and assist the parties to come to a mutually agreed resolution of the issues in their case. The entire focus of the mediation process is find a mutually agreed upon resolution, with both parties making suitable compromises to resolve financial issues equitably and to agree upon a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the child.

There are many advantages to mediation. First of all, it enables the parents of children to be creative and explore options that may not be available to the courts, as both parties are intimately knowledgeable about their living situations and what works best in their own unique family dynamic. Parents can talk freely in mediation because what is said in the mediation session stays in the mediation session and is not admissible in court. Mediation is not appropriate in cases involving child abuse, domestic violence or in any case where the child or other party may be placed in harm's way.

Second, it allows for parties to speak and be heard in a cathartic manner. Parties are often unable to approach decision-making in a divorce setting in a rational way. Tensions become high and critical thinking skills begin to diminish. The parties become overly excited and eager to get a point across. However, allowing them to vent, whether to the other party in a joint session or to the mediator in a confidential one, mediation enables them to take a more rational approach to settlement.

Third, a mediator can help temper a client's unrealistic expectations about how the process of divorce will work, how much it will cost in time and money, and how the results will likely be obtained. Sometimes it is difficult for an attorney to inform a client about the risks and downsides of the case while continuing to maintain the trust and confidence of the client. A mediator, recognized as a neutral by both sides, is able to listen without judgment to both parties and provide counseling. The mediator is able to ask questions or offer thoughts that will lead the parties to a more objective resolution. With the help of a mediator, the attorney can remain the advocate that the client wants but still support the mediator's focus on difficult issues. As a result, the client can become aware of the big picture and move beyond any unreasonable positions held.

Fourth, mediation allows for the parties to retain decision-making power. A judge can never know the circumstances of the parties as well as the parties themselves do. People are ultimately more satisfied with decisions they make than with the ones imposed on them. When decisions are jointly and voluntarily reached, the rate of compliance with them is likely to be far higher.

Fifth, mediation is cost effective. This is a huge advantage in the long run. It allows for the parties to save over time. Plenty of money can be saved when the problems in a dispute have been addressed early. Even when done late in the process, the cost of mediation is still less than the cost of going to trial.

Sixth, mediation allows room for the availability of creative solutions. In mediation, the parties are not limited to the relief provided by statue. They are able to tailor their agreement to meet their specific needs. They can agree in ways that the judge has no authority to order without such an agreement.

Seventh, mediation forms resolutions that help preserve relationships. The traditional, adversarial, even antagonistic approach that the courtroom brings is less likely to lead to the parties working together afterward. There is no clear "winner" and "loser" in a successful mediation. Additionally, the confidentiality and privacy that mediation offers are valuable. The parties will often be working together for many years to come (in some ways for the rest of their lives) in relation to their children. Mediation decreases the stress levels to which the parties and their children are exposed.

Lastly, mediation can be empowering. It can teach parties conflict resolution skills they can take with them and use in future dealings. If custody becomes an issue, a mediator can help impress upon the parties that the "best interests of the child" is the guiding principle that the courts will follow. A mediator can help them understand that the court will look to what is in the child's best interest, not theirs.

Outlined below are parenting tips that every parent should follow. First, know your child. Be careful who they hang with. Keep in mind that everyone is not their friend. Second, listen respectfully, attentively and without interruption to your child. Allow yourself and your child to be heard. Remember, information is power. Third, demonstrate a willingness to correct your child when he or she has done something wrong. Fourth, don't assume you always know what your child really wants. Ask, and keep your child in high spirits of expectation.

According to NYU Child Study Center, a woman by the name of Diana Baumrind along with other researchers in child development developed four different types of parenting styles. The four types of styles are authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and uninvolved.

Authoritative parenting is a more moderate style. Parents set limits and rely on natural consequences for children to learn from, letting the children make their own decisions. They explain the importance of rules as well as why rules must be followed. Parents reason with children and listen to the children's point-of-view even though they may not agree. Parents are also firm with kindness, warmth and love. They set high standards and encourage children to be independent. (NYU Child Study Center) This may be the best style of parenting. It sets limits for children but also lets them express their feelings. This opens up the line of communication between parent and child, giving the child a sense of comfort knowing that they can communicate openly with the parent. It also lets children learn from experience, which is life's best teacher. Parents set expectations and rules letting the children make the decisions and deal with the consequences that follow. This allows children to become independent and be able to think for themselves. Parents are showing love and concern while not enabling children by making excuses and doing or handing everything to the children.

Authoritarian parenting is extremely strict and controlling. Parents dictate how their children should behave, stress obedience to authority and discourage discussion. They are demanding, directive and expect their children to obey orders. Also in this style, parents do not encourage give-and-take, have low sensitivity levels and do not expect their children to disagree with decisions made. (NYU Child Study Center) This style of parenting can be dangerous. Some children in strict households tend to "go wild" when finally released from the house. There is no affection for the children in the home just discipline, so when children are away from home they are looking for that love and affection they did not receive. They begin to hang with the wrong crowd for all the wrong reasons looking for something to fill the void. These children are used to someone telling them what to do all the time and people making their decisions for them. When it is time for them to make their own decisions, they have little experience doing so.

Permissive parenting is warm and loving but exercises little control. Parents do not set limits, allowing children to set their own rules, schedules and activities. This parenting style does not make demands about behavior as authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles do. (NYU Child Study Center) This parenting style can also be dangerous because there little discipline if any. These children get to run free and do as they please without consequence. When they are no longer in the home, they still carry this same attitude with them. These children feel as though whatever they want is already theirs. Since there are not many rules, if any, inside of the home, these children will not have much experience following rules or directions outside of the home. They have little or no respect for authority and feel that they do not have to follow rules or laws of others if they do not wish to.

The last parenting style, uninvolved, is self-explanatory. Parents demand little and respond minimally. In more extreme cases, this parenting style may entail neglect and rejection. (NYU Child Study Center) This is the most dangerous. These children do not experience love or discipline. They are practically on their own and get the impression that their parents do not care. They carry this mentality with…

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