Mediation is an informal process in which the parties attempt through negotiation to settle the issues of their case. Typically, the parties are in separate rooms with their attorneys and the mediator travels back and forth between the rooms in order to convey settlement offers between the parties. The mediator cannot give legal advice, but often will provide his or her take on the issues and try to guide the parties to a middle ground.
Yes. In South Carolina, mediation is required by the Court before the parties can request a final hearing. However, if the parties are able to settle the case prior to mediation, the requirement of mediation is waived and the parties can proceed to court in order to have their agreement approved.
Yes. Anything said in mediation is not admissible in Court and the mediator cannot be called as a witness to testify as to what took place in mediation. Additionally, the mediator maintains confidentiality in his or her conversations with each party, unless permission is given to share the communication.
Yes, most cases settle in mediation. However, mediation should not be scheduled before the parties have had time to conduct discovery or otherwise become fully informed as to all financial aspects of the case. Since mediators do not provide legal advice, it is important to have an experienced family law attorney to provide legal advice and a settlement strategy during mediation.