Issuance of a Louisiana decree may not end all legal issues following the dissolution of marriage and bring tranquility to the former spouses. Matters arise after the divorce is final such as child custody and visitation and financial issues involving support. Instead of heading to court to seek enforcement or modification, the parties may try to resolve these issues themselves through mediation.
Mediation allows the parties to appear before a neutral mediator who helps them reach settlements of contested issues. Self-determination governs this process, allows the parties to fashion an agreement that meets their unique needs instead of a court imposing a judgment upon them and permits the parties to reject any settlement. The process may remain confidential and statements made in mediation may not be used against a party if an agreement is not reached or if it is disapproved.
Mediation costs are divided on a proportional basis. The court still must review and adopt any agreement that the parties reach. Mediation may be preferable for dealing with contested issues concerning the children such as child support, visitation or supervision. This process is less contentious and emotional for the children and allows for informed and private consideration of a solution that serves the best interests of the children.
Changes in maintenance or child or spousal support usually requires proof that the financial circumstances of one of the spouses that may be presented publicly in court. This may be embarrassing and should be avoided.
The court will likely have authority over support modification, but going to mediation first allows the parties to be transparent to each other without airing their financial problems in public. It allows them to reach their own agreement in a fair manner.
Parties should not agree to a process that gives the mediator final authority over a resolution that may be appealed to a court. Mediation should take place before a neutral and unbiased mediator who assists the parties with reaching a settlement.
An attorney can help a party with participating in an unbiased process. Lawyers can also represent a party's interest during mediation and assist them with reaching a fair and reasonable agreement.