Pro Bono For Fairfax County Courts
At Reese Law, we believe in giving back, which includes offering our expertise to people with limited means through pro bono volunteer work. Christine Hissong acts as a roster mediator with the Fairfax County Juvenile Court. She works with families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to mediate their cases to help achieve a resolution to their conflict. We are so proud of her good work with the courts that helps promote mediation and provides access to justice for people of limited means.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in which the parties come together to attempt to agree to terms to settle their case without going to trial. In Virginia, family support and custody cases are heard by the Juvenile and Circuit Court. While mediation is voluntary and confidential, the court has a mediation program that allows the parties to avoid the expense, time, and risks of trial by participating in a mediation. In a mediation, the parties work with a mediator – an independent neutral who facilitates the parties’ conversation, helps them to identify issues and generate options for resolution, and provides guidance in an interest-based negotiation process. The mediator is not a judge, rather they are a facilitator. Compromise is necessary, and, ultimately, mediation will result in a settlement of the case when the participating parties agree to mutually acceptable terms.
Who Makes a Good Mediator?
In family law cases, a good mediator is someone who has depth and breadth of experience in the subject so that they understand the issues and the law and can help the parties generate realistic settlement options regarding the various issues at stake in the case. The Fairfax County Juvenile Court roster mediators go through a vigorous training and application process to become certified, to assure that they have the necessary skills and competencies. A good mediator can assess the issues at stake and help each party understand the other’s interests and goals so that the parties together may create a fair agreement that serves their interests and those of their children.
A Passion and a Purpose
With many years of experience as a mediator, Christine volunteered to serve as a roster mediator with the court for several reasons. She wanted to promote access to justice, working with parties, many of whom do not have their own attorneys, to avoid a trial of their family law issue. “I think everyone should have an opportunity to mediate their case because it leads to better, more satisfying outcomes,” says Christine. “In our practice, we see the benefits of mediation, and it’s truly rewarding to offer this option to people of limited means.” Christine believes that ADR is the better way for families to resolve their cases, and she feels like she is a torchbearer for the cause by working through the court program.
At Reese Law, the ADR practice includes representing parties in mediation and acting as mediators in private cases. Christine’s expertise in both of these roles is well suited to her pro bono work with the courts. If you want to know more about working with Reese Law on your family law dispute, contact us for a consultation.