Mediation is a process by which an experienced professional third party aids you and your spouse find a satisfactory resolution to your conflict without the heartaches and financial burden of going to court. The mediator does not make any decision for you, but rather organizes the discussion, provides general information and guides the process so that you have an opportunity to arrive at the best solution possible under often difficult circumstances. Mediation is very effective in resolving the majority of Parenting Plan and other family law related disputes – and it is far less expensive than going to trial. Mediation allows both of you to have some control over how all of your issues will be resolved, instead of having a decision imposed upon you by a stranger in a black robe.
A Settlement Conference is very similar to mediation, except the third party will give his or her educated opinion as to how the dispute would most likely be resolved by a judge at trial or hearing. You are free to accept or reject this opinion and with the help of the third party and your attorney, you may resolve your dispute based in part on the opinion. No decision can be imposed on you without mutual consent.