COST: While a mediator does charge an hourly fee, mediation typically takes much less time than proceeding through the court system. Taking less time means spending less money.
COOPERATION: Expert mediators strongly suggest that their clients get individual attorneys so that they will understand the legal ramifications of the decisions they're making. Mediators provide legal information; attorneys provide legal advice, documentation, and necessary court filings.
CONFIDENTIALITY: Court hearings are public however mediation sessions are private. Only the mediating parties and the mediator know what transpired. There are limits to confidentially, however, based on personal and public safety.
CONTROL: In mediation, the parties are in charge of their own resolution. In court, orders are based on the decisions of a judge or jury. Mediation produces a result that is mutually beneficial for the parties and is more likely to be followed by those who have made the decisions.
SUPPORT: Mediators are trained to work with difficult situations and to help parties calmly find solutions to disputes. In the best case scenarios, parties feel that they were heard and involved in the resolution process.
TIME: Mediation can resolve conflict in an efficient time frame working within the parties’ individual schedules.
Many people think that mediation is an informal process, in which a friendly mediator chats with the disputants until they suddenly drop their hostilities and work together for the common good. In fact, mediation is a multi-stage process designed to get results. It is less formal than a trial or arbitration, but there are distinct stages to the mediation process. Most mediations proceed as follows:
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Stage 1: Mediator's Welcome.
Once you are seated at the table, I will explain the goals and ground rules of mediation and prepare you for the process.
Stage 2: Parties' and Mediator's
As preparation for the first session, you will be asked to write out your goals for mediation. Before we review your goals together, I will ask you to describe your expectation for that day's session. Clarity in your goals is vitally important to the process. As we make small agreements, we will measure each of them against your desired end results. This focus on alignment of your goals, our agreements, and your promised actions for the future will keep us on track for working cooperatively toward a fair and reasonable settlement.
Stage 3: Agenda Setting.
We will set an agenda that addresses both your expectations and goal setting, both for the day we're meeting and for your ongoing mediation. We will all set the agenda, keeping in mind both your joint and individual goals.
Stage 4: Working Through the Agenda.
Taking a very methodical approach, I will encourage you to talk directly about everything we've placed on the agenda. Some agenda items will take entire sessions, or multiple sessions, to discuss fully. We will take the time and be thorough enough to ensure that all issues needing to be addressed have been included.
Stage 5: Wrap-up.
If an agreement has been reached, I will usually create a "Memorandum of Understanding," putting the detailed provisions of your agreement in writing for you. This written summary is for you to take to your attorneys for review and preparation of final documentation. If no agreement is reached, I will review whatever progress has been made and advise you both of your options, such as meeting again later, going to arbitration, or going to court.
Sometimes the relationship between the parties is such that mediation will not be effective in resolving the conflict or will exacerbate the problem. These situations include:
The first step in a successful mediation is to talk with an expert mediator. Please use the free consultation button on this page.
A number of issues or problems can undermine a party’s ability to effectively participate in mediation. Mediation is inappropriate when:
My excellence in mediation allows me to help you reach mutually beneficial results. Mediation allows me to work outside the court system and focus our attention on open communication with conflict resolution being our only goal.
Mediation is an informal and flexible dispute resolution process. The mediator's role is to guide the parties toward their own resolution. Through joint sessions and separate caucuses with parties, the mediator helps both sides define the issues clearly, understand each other's needs and interests, and move closer to resolution.
In mediation, two or more people come together to try to work out a solution to their problem. A neutral third person, called the mediator, is there to help them along. Most mediators have some training in conflict resolution, although the extent of their training varies greatly. Unlike a judge or an arbitrator, the mediator does not take sides or make decisions. The mediator's job is to help the disputants evaluate their goals and options and find their own mutually satisfactory solution.
Mediation is forward-looking; the goal is for all parties to work out a deep and durable solution they can live with over time. It focuses on solving problems, not uncovering the truth or imposing legal rules. This, of course, is a far different approach than courts take. In court, a judge or jury looks back to determine who was right and who was wrong, then imposes a penalty or award based on its decision.
Because the mediator has no authority to impose a decision, nothing will be decided unless both parties agree to it. Knowing that no result can be imposed from above greatly reduces the tension of all parties — and it also reduces the likelihood that someone will cling to an extreme position. Also, if mediation does not produce an agreement, either side is free to take alternative courses of action.
Typically, neighbor-to-neighbor or other personal issues are resolved in a few hours. Negotiations between divorcing couples or small businesses often involve multiple sessions, spread out over a few months.
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