What is mediation?

Mediation, sometimes referred to as settlement conference, is an alternative to resolving matters through litigation.  In mediation, spouses and/or parents work with a neutral third party to discuss issues, develop common ground, and often times reach an agreement.  Parties may mediate with or without attorneys present.  The benefit of mediation is it can save the expense and emotional burden of trial, and parties have the ability to control their destiny and tailor a suitable agreement (rather than be subject to a judicial decree).  Since agreements are develop and tailored by the parties themselves, they tend to work better than an order imposed by a court.

Is mediation required?

Some Montana Courts require mediation/settlement conference before scheduling a matter for trial.  For example, Missoula County and Ravalli County District Court require mediation before a trial date will be set for dissolution of marriage or parenting plan matters.  Also, Court ordered parenting plans and decrees of dissolution may require mediation before a party may amend or seek judicial intervention.          

Can something I say in settlement conference be used against me at trial if we don’t settle?

No, settlement negotiations during mediation are treated as confidential, and generally may not be used against you at trial if a settlement is not reached.  The settlement master or mediator may not be called to testify.

Who pays for mediation?
The parties mediating usually split any charges for mediation.  Charges vary depending on the provider.  

What family law mediators and settlement masters are available in the Missoula area?

There are a number of competent and effective family law settlement masters available the Missoula area to facilitate settlement conferences, including Jane Cowley, Kyle Cunningham, Randy Harrison, Dennis Lind, Susan Ridgeway, Mars Scott , Cindy Thiel, and Evonne Wells.  

What is the advantage of mediation?

Resolution through mediation allows parties to control their own destiny (rather than be subject to a decision by a Judge), saves money that would otherwise be spent to litigate, and better serves children with uniquely tailored provisions. In mediation, couples can often set aside hostility and agree on key decisions affecting their children.   Children tend to fare far better when parents agree on parenting issues.

Call André Gurr at Garden City Law to mediate your dispute, and help craft a parenting plan agreement that will best serve your children’s unique interests.  Prompt, precise, and professional service is guaranteed.  Consultations are confidential, and usually free of charge.  As an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney in Missoula, André provides legal services throughout Western Montana, including Missoula, Mineral, Ravalli, Lake, Sanders, Flathead, Lewis and Clark, and Beaverhead County.  

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