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Mediation - Settlement Conferences

Most family law cases are resolved through mediation (also known as a settlement conference). This eliminates the need to go through a trial which is very costly and emotionally draining. Both Pierce County and King County require the parties to participate in mediation, before a trial even can take place.

In mediation, the parties can resolve all issues to avoid trial. One of the biggest advantages to resolving a case though mediation is that the parties can address their unique family law situation with specificity. No two divorces, child custody, or support cases are alike and mediation allows the parties to craft detailed provisions in their agreements tailored to their particular family. This is in stark contrast to a trial, when a judge usually does not have the time or resources to devote to one particular case beyond generally entering basic court orders. By way of analogy, it has been said that mediation is akin to using a scalpel, whereas trial is more like using an axe.

A mediator is a neutral third party, who will not provide legal advice to either party and mediation sessions are confidential by court rule. The mediator’s role is to find common ground and to assist the parties in reaching an agreement.

In Pierce County, the Court requires a mediation to take place before trial, in accordance with PCLSPR 94.04

PCLSPR 94.4 (d): Settlement conferences are mandatory in dissolution cases, paternity cases, other family law cases and post dissolution petitions for modification (petition to change a parenting plan, residential schedule, or custody order) when the parenting plan or residential schedule is at issue. Settlement conferences are not mandatory for chases addressing only child support and/or division of property and assets and family law cases in which a waiver was granted pursuant to local rules.

In King County, there are similar requirements.

LFLR 16 (a). Alternative Dispute Resolution Required. Except in cases involving domestic violence, child support only modification, or where waived by the court order, the parties in every case shall participate in a settlement conference, medication or other alternative dispute resolution process conducted by a neutral third person no later than thirty (30) days before trial.

Family law litigation, including mediation, can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. We have years of experience helping our clients through the difficulty of family law litigation and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at, to talk about your case.

Disclaimer: All materials provided on this website have been prepared by Bains Law Firm for general information purposes only and no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and may not be relied upon as such. Only an attorney who can review the unique facts of each case and apply them to the statutes, case law and court rules can provide legal advice. Nothing in this website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.

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