Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mediation
Mediation is a process in which people with a conflict work with a neutral adviser to reach an agreement that addresses the needs of all participants. It allows you the opportunity to be heard and understood, and to hear and understand the other party. It is not adversarial; it helps you work with the other party to solve your dispute. You design an agreement so it specifically addresses your concerns.
Any family issue can be resolved through mediation, including custody, visitation and support. In custody cases, the mediator can explain to you the practical differences between such terms as joint, sole or shared custody. Different visitation arrangements that have proved successful with other parents can be explored. Your mediator will also make available to you the support guidelines used by the judges in your area.
In all custody and visitation cases where both parties live in Virginia, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court located in Manassas requires the parties to attend a mediation evaluation. The parties are directed to contact the Office of Dispute Resolution for an appointment. The 45-minute session is designed to prescreen participants for appropriateness, and educate them about the process. This no-cost evaluation is your opportunity to have your questions about mediation answered by a qualified professional.
You do not need to file a case in Court in order to obtain mediation services. You may contact the Office of Dispute Resolution directly for an appointment to learn more about mediation.
Those who choose to participate in mediation are offered the opportunity to choose from a list of certified mediators. The appropriate information is sent to the selected mediator by the Office of Dispute Resolution, and the process begins.
When an agreement is reached through mediation, it is recommended that each party have an attorney review it to ensure that their legal rights have not been compromised. If a case has been filed in Court, the agreement may then be given to the Office of Dispute Resolution for direct submission to the Court without requiring anyone to appear in Court. The agreement will be entered as a Court order.
If an agreement cannot be reached, the parties may file a case in Court, or if a case is pending, it will proceed through the normal Court process. If some of the issues have been resolved through mediation, you may limit the Court hearing to the remaining issues.
Mediation allows you to solve your dispute in cooperation with the other party. Judges and attorneys recognize that litigation is not always the best way to resolve conflicts, particularly between family members. Mediation is not a win-lose situation. You have a chance to get past your anger and direct your attention to resolving the dispute at hand. Relationships between family members are often torn apart by the adversarial nature of litigation. Mediation promotes trust, cooperation and respect, and allows you to solve your dispute in cooperation with the other party. Mediation may also reduce the cost, time and stress of resolving conflicts. The parties select the mediator, and can arrange mutually convenient meeting times. The mediator is there to help focus on the critical issues and assist in finding useful and creative methods of solving problems. No one is pressured to give up his or her rights, and the participants are in control of the outcome.
One of the main objectives in family mediation is to protect the interests of children. Another priority is to help parents establish and/or maintain consistent involvement in their children's lives. Children are often severely affected by conflict between parents: the child's stress can lead to incidents of juvenile delinquency and other self-destructive behavior.
Mediation services are offered by attorneys, private individuals, and organizations throughout Northern Virginia. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court located in Manassas refers disputants to services that are offered by attorneys, private individuals, and organizations throughout the Northern Virginia area. The location of Juvenile and Domestic Relations Dispute Resolutions in Manassas is as follows:
Office of Dispute Resolution
9309 Center Street, Room 301
Manassas, Virginia 20110
This office maintains a complete list of mediation services in Northern Virginia. Please call for more information about mediation services in your area.