No, in fact, in almost all of our cases we recommend that the parties be in separate rooms. In many mediations, the mediator and all parties involved are in one room where they talk about the issues of the case, and the mediator lets the parties speak directly to work out their issues and come to a settlement. This is usually not a good idea in divorce or child custody cases because the parties are too emotionally involved in the case, and it may actually reduce the possibility of reaching an agreement. Instead, mediators that commonly mediate family law cases will separate the parties in two rooms with their attorneys. The mediator will then go from one room to the other to try to reach an agreement with which both parties are comfortable. This way the mediator can listen to each side of the case without having the other party interrupt or become angry during the process.
Although this is the custom for family law cases, make sure to talk to your attorney about what you feel is best. If you and your spouse can still work together amicably and you feel it would be easier to reach an agreement if both of you are in the same room, speak to your attorney and the mediator about this.
Finally, in addition to separating the parties, most mediators prefer that only the parties and their attorneys be present. They typically do not want friends or family members of the parties to be present because their opinions can sometimes work against reaching an agreement. If you would like a friend or family member present, make sure you or your attorney asks the mediator first. Many times, in addition to getting the approval from the mediator, the mediator will want the approval from the other party before allowing anyone other than a party or a party’s attorney in the mediation.
Patricia Carter is as an attorney with Houston firm Carter Morris. She is board certified as a Family Law Litigator by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She can be reached at (713) 626-3345. View their Divorce Magazine profile.