The Mediation Process

The Road to Resolution

Resolving disputes through mediation is rapidly becoming the first choice of parties facing a conflict they cannot settle themselves. Rather than going to court, mediation provides them with a less stressful, less expensive, and less time-consuming alternative to litigation. It also gives them more power over the outcome of their situation since the mediation process empowers parties to solve their disputes themselves; this is approached through the sharing of information, the respectful presentation of individual viewpoints and the discussion of potential, promising ways to settle their dispute. Rather than having the circumstances of their case decided for them in the courtroom, parties to mediation take part in a process that allows them to speak their mind about their position and take the lead in structuring a settlement they feel is fair and best suits their needs.

The Role of the Mediator

The role of the mediator, rather than making a judgment in favor of one party at the expense of the other, is to be a neutral third party who facilitates the communication between the parties and guides the process toward a satisfactory settlement for all concerned.

The Mediation Process

A mediation, held in a private, comfortable setting, typically begins in a joint session with the mediator making an opening statement explaining the fundamentals of the mediation process and establishing communication guidelines. For instance, it is critical that all parties show respect for one another while opposing viewpoints are presented. After the mediator’s opening statement, each party is typically invited to give their perspective on the issues at hand. Some joint discussion may follow at this point. The mediating parties may attend the mediation alone or with an attorney. During the process it is likely that the mediator will meet in private with each party in what is called a “caucus” to further explore the needs and interests of each party as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each side of the case.

Settlement

As the process of joint sessions and private meetings continues, ideas for resolution are being identified and evaluated by both sides. The job of the mediator is to guide the communication in such a way that the give-and-take between the two parties leads to a mutually-agreed upon settlement. If a resolution is reached, a Settlement Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding can be prepared by the mediator and either party can have the written agreement reviewed by an attorney of their choice. Keep in mind that mediation can be entered into before a suit is filed, during litigation, or even during the appeals process.

Types of Mediation

Mediation is used in all types of civil disputes including divorce, eldercare, family conflict, and workplace issues. It is also used to resolve disputes with probate, business, contract, real estate/property, personal injury, landlord/tenant, and neighborhood association matters.

“We were so impressed with your mediation skills. The pre-mediation materials you
gave us enabled us to effectively prepare for mediation and helped make our session
productive and successful.”

“After our father passed away without a will, we were overwhelmed by the probate dispute we were in with our stepmother. Your pre-mediation materials allowed me and my three siblings to organize the pertinent paperwork and documents as well as enable us to get our thoughts together. We can’t thank you enough for helping us get this matter behind us.”

Brent Cooper on behalf of the Cooper family
Probate Dispute, 2014