A dispute is often said to be ripe for mediation when the parties have reached a “mutually hurting stalemate.” This couple had certainly arrived at hurt, and they were facing down more tension and pain by having allowed matters come to the point of a trial. For most of the public, mediation has a far better reputation than the legal process, yet how do you enter mediation in time for it to stand a chance?
Often one party calls in a mediator expecting that the mediator will sell their desired outcome to the other side. When negotiations are active, and matters still seem some way away from impasse, the suggestion of mediation is often rejected as an unneeded hassle. Yet when positions harden, there may be no pulling back from litigation. There is no right or wrong time to begin the path towards mediation, but all other factors being equal, sooner is generally better than later.
I have added a “before mediation begins” page to this website, to cover some of the issues that surround the entry into mediation. There is more to it than just understanding what happens once the process starts.
As for the mother who wanted me to mediate the answer, she did not do so well. The dad was a really diligent dad, and he came away with more time than she cared to let him have with their child, though perhaps not everything else he asked for.
Moral of the story: mediate before it is too late. This couple had rather ignored their case, and perhaps their “mutually hurting stalemate” only came when they realized that the court date was upon them as they walked up the courthouse steps.
They did at least agree to a court order requiring them to mediate before coming back to court. I never saw them again.