Q: What is Mediation?
A: Mediation is a fair and efficient process to help you resolve your disputes and reach an agreement. A neutral mediator assists you in reaching a voluntary, negotiated agreement.
Q: What is provided by way of a mediation consultation, evaluation or facilitation?
A: Often, these services are provided in an initial exploratory conference where, in recognizing that mediation isn’t necessarily right for every situation, an initial consultation helps determine whether to mediate at the time.
Learning about the dispute and its history, the parties’ interaction, relative interests and positions at hand, discussions and/or negotiations to date and desired outcomes helps me evaluate whether the matter is appropriate or timely for mediation.
When the decision to mediate is made, I will facilitate the process and its productivity by further exploring with you matters such as who ought to participate, how much time to set aside, and how you might come prepared to participate.
Q: What does mediation focus on?
A: Mediation focuses on the reality of the parties’ situations and choices as they presently exist, and how those choices may serve them in their immediate or long-term future. That focus is sharpened by addressing the parties’ respective interests which may underlie the dispute or be the motivation for resolving it.
Q: What are the advantages of mediating?
A: In mediation, the parties are helped by a neutral mediator who facilitates the process of reaching a resolution that is satisfactory to both. The process is one where the parties share power; they decide, together, the terms of discussion and agreement. They are able to create remedies that directly address their specific interests. Mediation also allows parties to resolve their dispute much faster than the process of litigation.
Q: How long does mediation take?
A: From the time you and the other party sit down with me, the mediation could finish in a few hours or, continue over a day or two — much more briefly and less costly than a court case where the outcome is uncertain.
Q: Where will the mediation take place?
A: It can take place at one party or the other’s conference facility, at my own, or an alternate location the parties agree upon.
Preparing for Mediation
Q: What will I have to do to prepare for the mediation?
A: Be prepared to tell the mediator about at least two things:
- What you feel the conflict is about
- Your suggestions of mutually acceptable resolutions
- Also, see my post, 5 Suggestions To Increase Chances For Settlement.
Q: Who should I bring to the mediation?
A: Only yourself and your attorney or professional advocate, if you are using one, and interpreters as needed. You’re generally asked not to bring other individuals – including witnesses, spouses, friends and other family members – so as to:
- Protect the confidentiality of the information shared in the process, and
- Honor the principle of self-determination by keeping the mediation process and decision-making as focused as possible on the parties.
Q: Do I need to hire an attorney or bring one to the mediation?
A: This requires personal consideration and is a decision each potential participant must make for him/herself.
Q: Can what I and the other party discuss during mediation be shared with others?
A: No. All information shared in the mediation that is not independently learned outside the mediation is considered confidential. That pertains to legal proceedings, as well as discussion with family and friends. Furthermore, no one – including the mediator – can be asked to testify as to what was said in mediation, regardless of whether or not the case is resolved. If a mediated agreement is reached, it too is confidential.
Q: Won’t I look “weak” by agreeing to mediation?
A: No. Even though you may feel very strongly about your position, there are many reasons you may still choose to mediate. Mediation is an opportunity for resolution, not an indication of weakness. Mediation helps parties understand and consider their available choices, measure their relative strengths and weaknesses, and reach an acceptable resolution that is of value to both of you.
Q: Does agreeing to mediate mean that I’m obligated to settle my case?
A: No. Mediation is a voluntary process. You are not required to settle the case during mediation, but you are expected to participate in good faith and try to resolve your dispute. If you and the other party are not able to reach resolution, the case, as it may be, will continue on as though you had never mediated. You may also pursue other alternatives.
Q: If I agree to settle the case during mediation, won’t it look like I’m admitting to some wrongdoing or that my claim is unimportant?
A: No. Mediation is not about determining liability, imposing blame or granting absolution. There is no decision-maker involved, other than the parties, themselves. (No judge, hearing officer, or the like.) People settle cases privately in mediation without admitting any liability or weakness, either verbally or in writing. See, Mediation is the Opposite of Litigation.
Q: What if one of the parties doesn’t follow through with the terms of a mediated settlement?
A: A settlement agreement is an enforceable contract. If its terms are not met, you can seek judicial enforcement or alternative forms of redress.