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Over 30 years ago the Virginia Supreme Court received a Report on what the future of the Virginia judicial system should look like, and what it should offer.  The Report recommended that “the judicial system will…provide…dispute resolution alternatives…” Why? Because “delay, cost of litigation, complexity of the court process, insensitivity to litigants and lack of access weaken the current court system.” The Report recommended developing a flexible system that: 

(1) includes mediation as an equal process to the court’s litigation process, 

(2) offers ways “to reduce hostility between disputants to gain acceptance of the outcomes” and 

(3) restores a sense of control to the parties.” 

These flexible alternatives to litigation “offer disputants an opportunity to fit the process to their particular dispute rather than requiring the parties to fit their dispute into the framework of the adversary system.” The Report states that the various dispute resolution processes should all be available and should be treated as “equal.”  

The Circuit Court Judges of some jurisdictions have wisely followed the recommendations of the Futures Report. For example, the Circuit Court of Stafford County now orders litigants to a mediation orientation session if they have scheduled a temporary hearing. The orientation session can be helpful to you even if you already have a lawyer and are already in litigation. 

Fortunately, Virginia Mediation offers a one-hour alternative dispute resolution orientation session for only $99 (free if Circuit Court ordered in Stafford). The purpose of this orientation session is: 

(1) to educate you by providing information regarding (a) all the dispute resolution options available to you even after suit has been filed, (b) how to use a lawyer for advice in each process, without losing control over decisions; and

(2) to determine whether there are factors that would make your case inappropriate for a dispute resolution proceeding other than litigation; and 

(3) to assist you “in determining whether your case is suitable for a dispute resolution process such as mediation” instead of continuing in litigation. If you determine that mediation is best suited to helping you settle your separation and divorce issues in the most efficient (least time and money), effective, responsive and appropriate way, then you can put your court case on hold during the time you give the mediation process a try. 

The foregoing provides educational information and does not provide legal advice. It was not prepared for you either generally or in connection with any specific issue or case. The mediator does not give legal advice. You are responsible for obtaining legal advice from your own lawyer.