Are Mediation Papers Public Record?

Mediation is a process, often used in divorce and custody proceedings, where the two concerned parties and their legal counsel meet with a mediator in lieu of court proceedings.

Courtroom proceedings can be tedious, stressful, and things can be said during deposition which neither party really want to be public information. Fights and arguments between a married couple, extramarital affairs, and financial problems are some things that could be brought up in court proceedings, and therefore become part of the transcript, which is public information. Anyone can request the transcript and read all of the dirty details of a family’s life.

Mediation is different. In a mediation, both parties, their lawyers, and the mediator sit down and discuss things in a private setting. The mediator opens up discussion between the parties, helping to work out a compromise that is suitable for everyone. The mediator will help tone down any hostility between parties, so that solutions can be worked out calmly and civilly.

This process is extremely useful for divorce and custody cases, as there is no reason for children or family members to be present. There is no testimony or dirty laundry being aired. It is simply two people coming to a mutually beneficial agreement that can then be drawn up into legal documents to be filed by the lawyers and signed by a judge.

Of course if mediation doesn’t work out, if the two parties cannot come to an agreement, even with the help of a mediator, then the issue must go to court. This can be a lengthy, tedious, and stressful experience not only for the involved parties, but for everyone involved in their life. When it comes to he said, she said, witnesses can be called upon to testify under oath as to what they’ve witnessed between the parties. In a custody battle, the children themselves can even be brought in to testify about their parents. This can be traumatic for a child and even cause mental issues later in their life.

Mediation can keep all of these issues from being a problem. An agreement can be made without the court’s intervention, and parties can remain amicable and feel satisfied that their concerns were heard and attended to.

The best part of mediation? It is completely confidential. No part of mediation is made public unless the parties involved publicize it. Companies will sometimes use mediation to arrive at a settlement for the simple reason that they don’t wish the public to know about a lawsuit filed. Doing this also allows a company to deny any guilt or wrongdoing, saying that it’s easier to pay the settlement than to fight it in court, should the plaintiff speak publicly about it. Sometimes plaintiffs will even have to sign non-disclosure agreements before receiving their settlement, meaning it stays completely out of the public eye.

The same holds true for divorces or custody agreements. If a couple wishes to keep the details of their marriage to themselves and avoid unnecessary stress and trauma on their children, private mediation is the way to go. The concerned parties, legal counsel and the mediator are the only people privy to what is discussed, and no one else need know the details of what was decided.