What is Mediation?
Mediation is an informal and confidential way for people to resolve disputes with the help of a neutral mediator who is trained to help people discuss their differences. The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong or issue a decision. Instead, the mediator helps the parties work out their own solutions to problems.
The decision to mediate is completely voluntary. If either party turns down mediation, the dispute will continue to fester or drive the parties to lengthy expensive litigation. If both parties agree to mediate, we will schedule a mediation, which will be conducted by a trained and experienced mediator.
A written signed agreement reached during mediation is enforceable in court just like any other contract.
How Does The Mediation Process Work?
The mediator meets with the parties individually in advance of the mediation to explain the process, encourage the parties to begin to identify the issues and their goals, and encourage the parties to plan for what information and resources to bring that may make them better prepared for the mediation.
2. Introductory Remarks
Once all parties are present, the Mediator will make introductions, give an opening statement outlining the roles of the participants, define protocol and guidelines, and set the time frame. The physical setting will be controlled so that no party feels threatened. Attorneys can be present, but the parties should speak for themselves.
3. Skill Building and Gaining Clarity of Goals, Resources, Options, and Preferences
Each party will have an opportunity to tell their story uninterrupted, giving the parties an opportunity to frame issues and their position.
Methods for developing options may include group discussion, developing hypothetical scenarios, or identification of common ground from which the parties may build. The mediator may decide to hold private sessions with the parties in order to move the process along. This caucus session can be confidential. The caucus provides a safe environment in which to brainstorm and surface underlying fears. Parties can also entertain alternative solutions to their problems without committing themselves to offer the solutions as concessions.
The style of mediation may vary depending on the circumstances of the dispute and needs of the parties including skill building to more hands-on problem solving or evaluation of the pros and cons or strengths and weaknesses of each position.
4. Reaching Resolution
The mediator will ask the parties open-ended questions to get to the emotional undercurrents. The mediator tries to find common goals between the parties. The mediator may repeat back key ideas to the parties, and may summarize often. This helps the mediator build rapport between the parties and builds the skills of both sides empowering each to listen, analyze issues, communicate, recognize the views of the other, and make decisions more effectively than they could before.