The Holiday Season: The Perfect Time to Try Mediation

happy family mother and child bake christmas cookies with peace of mind after a mediation session to establish a coparenting plan

The quintessential image of the holiday season is a family sitting around the fireplace with presents in hand and smiles all around. Yet the holidays are a difficult time for many due to complex family dynamics and co-parenting situations. Fortunately, mediation offers a flexible solution that keeps everyone happy.

Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from mediation and why it makes so much sense during the holiday season.

How to coordinate mediation

During the mediation process (also known as alternative dispute resolution), the two parties involved in a dispute meet with a mediator to resolve their conflict. A mediator remains neutral throughout the process and focuses on facilitating discussion — they cannot legally force a decision. This helps to build trust and goodwill.

Mediation has emerged as a popular way for families to settle legal issues quietly and establish a mutually agreed-upon solution that doesn’t pit people against each other.

For example, two parents who disagree on how to split time with their children over the holidays may meet with a mediator to devise a mutually beneficial arrangement. If they were to use the court system instead, both parties would likely push for their children to spend 100% of the holidays with them, which stirs up resentment. Mediation presents the opportunity to develop a tailored plan that better suits the family.

Mediation may occur over a single session (typically lasting a few hours) or multiple sessions depending on the situation’s complexity, and all information remains confidential. 

The pros of mediation during the holiday season

Even when it’s not the holidays, nobody enjoys hanging around courts — it’s time-consuming and soul-draining. Mediation is a lower-stress alternative. Unlike going through the courts, it doesn’t create conflict between the parties involved. Since a mediator is an impartial third party who helps everyone involved to reach a favorable outcome, it often improves communication between families and leaves everyone feeling more positive. This matches the spirit of the holidays much better than a bitter dispute in court!

It’s also a convenient solution. Many people assume that mediation has to occur in person, but this is no longer true. Remote mediation is now standard for many legal firms, allowing families to set up flexible digital appointments they can fit around the holidays. This is perfect for anyone who plans to travel between different areas over the holidays to visit various loved ones.

An additional bonus of mediation is that it’s often more cost-effective than going to the courts. Everyone involved pools their money together to pay for the mediator, instead of using their funds for their own lawyers. Many people reach an agreement in a few short sessions, which helps to keep the costs down further. This is a relief for many during the expensive holiday season, when we’d rather spend our money on gifts or food. If a lawyer is desired, they can participate or review the agreement outcome and advise clients before signing.

Put the “happy” into the holidays

Don’t let family conflicts put a dampener on the holiday season. Pursuing mediation looks after everyone’s interests and helps you reach a resolution everyone will be happy with — as quickly as possible and with minimal stress.

If you’re looking for the right partner to pursue mediation with, consider working with Donita King, a highly qualified lawyer-mediator with decades of experience. Contact her law offices to learn more about her empathetic approach to mediation and the types of conflicts she can help resolve.

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Donita King

Ms. King is a member of the Virginia, Pennsylvania, and D.C. State Bars. She also serves as a University of Richmond School of Law Adjunct Professor of Mediation. She previously served on the Virginia Bar Association Joint ADR Council (2015 Chair), and served for several years on the Governor of Virginia’s Interagency Dispute Resolution Council. Ms. King currently serves as a board member of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board by appointment of the Virginia Supreme Court and has been active with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Women in Business as well. Se habla espanol.

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