- July 29, 2014
- Posted by: Lee A. Schwartz, Esquire
- Category: Monthly Newsletters
Mediation can be a useful method of dispute resolution for couples with information which in a Court setting might be prohibited by Court rules or might be concerning illegal or inappropriate activities that could lead to prosecution.
Unreported Income: In situations where a spouse or partner owns their own business in which income is all or partially made up of cash received from customers, discussing income in a courtroom setting might lead to the prosecution of a party who has not been truthful in reporting income on tax returns. If cash is received and is not reported on tax returns, Judges often will advise litigants before or during a trial that if evidence of unreported income is proven, the Judge will be obligated to notify the taxing authorities. This unreported income scenario can arise in child support, spousal support, alimony pendente lite, alimony and in a equitable distribution (division of marital property) matters. It can be devastating to both parties, if a spouse is reported to taxing authorities for years of unreported income.
In Mediation, there is no mandatory reporting to authorities for these issues and no such legal consequences. Couples can discretely discuss the presence of this unreported income in their legal matter, and if the parties are both comfortable that adequate disclosure has been made, this income can be used, along with other reported income, for purposes of calculating support and can also be distributed by the parties as a part of the overall settlement of the property distribution.
GPS and Tracking Devices: The use of GPS and similar tracking devices are becoming more commonplace in Divorce and Custody matters. The use of the information derived from these devices may or may not be admissible in court depending upon several factors.
In the Mediation setting, there is no Judge to rule on whether the data from these devices is or is not admissible, since the admissibility of this data is not an issue. Should the data from these devices be disclosed in a custody mediation, for example, to show what locations a parent frequents, this data can be very persuasive in getting a party in the correct posture to resolve legal matters in a more expeditious manner.
Mediation is the perfect setting to negotiate, discuss and resolve matters, which are sensitive and which parties would not want aired in a setting such as a trial. The trial setting is one that results in a public record and a public record may not be the best method of resolving your family law disputes.
Mediation is a private and confidential process. It is ideal for couples who wish not to air their “dirty laundry”. Except in very limited situations, which are fully disclosed prior to Mediation, nothing said to a Mediator can be communicated to a third party.