Wisconsin Family Law Mediators Will Be Allowed to Draft Settlement Documents

Wisconsin family law attorneys who serve as mediators will soon be allowed to draft settlement documents resulting from mediations sessions and file them in court. This is a dramatic shift from the current Wisconsin court rules, which prohibit such conduct. The current drafting prohibition generally increases the costs of the mediation process, since parties must either look elsewhere for their agreements to be memorialized in writing, or take on the burden themselves of drafting an order a court will approve.

On February 21, 2017, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued the Order regarding the rule change and officially established the effective date (July 1, 2017). While the new rule applies to all family law related cases, it will be particularly impactful in divorce cases. Parties who are confident and committed in their ability to work out their issues themselves and not have them litigated now can pursue divorce mediation and enjoy more economical and efficient avenue to complete the divorce process.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process by which parties come to an agreement on one or more issues with the assistance of a neutral third party – the mediator. The mediator has no authority to force the parties into an agreement or decide the issue. Mediators foster communication between the parties and provide their expertise to assist the parties in reaching creative solutions. Mediators come from a variety of backgrounds (social workers; clergy; mental health professions), but this new rule only applies to mediators who are also licensed attorneys.

What Does the New Rule Allow?

Under the new rule, attorney mediators may draft and file documents that confirm, memorialize or implement the parties’ agreement to resolve the issues negotiated in the mediation process. Both parties must consent to have the attorney mediator draft the documents.

The cost savings provided by the new rule are potentially significant. If their situation is ripe for mediation, parties may feel they need not hire their own attorney. Indeed, there is a growing trend, which partly gave basis for the new rule, for parties to avoid the traditional court process and tackle their family law issue by alternative dispute resolution means.

Several Hawks Quindel attorneys are trained as mediators. If you have questions about mediation, please contact the Hawks Quindel family law attorneys by calling 414-271-8650 in the Milwaukee area or 608-257-0040 in the Madison area.

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