What is Mediation?
Mediation is an informal, voluntary, and confidential way to resolve disputes.
In mediation, the parties work with a neutral person (a mediator) who has special training to help people solve a problem without going to court. Your mediator does not make decisions for you, and cannot tell you what to do. Rather, your mediator:
- Educates you about the law without giving either of you personalized legal advice
- Helps you communicate by interpreting and relaying information, and addressing the concerns of all parties without doing therapy
- Frames issues for resolution, defines the problems giving rise to the dispute, and provides a structure to help people reach their own agreement
- Facilitates the exchange of information needed so everyone can make informed decisions
- Facilitates negotiation between the parties to enhance options generation and opportunities for creative problem-solving
- Helps parties find common ground and manage unrealistic expectations so you can reach agreement
- Prepares written documents memorializing your agreements if the parties wish
What is shared in mediation remains private unless it is common knowledge or independently known by a third party. This gives people confidence to speak candidly with each other and the mediator about sensitive or difficult topics, and to safely brainstorm options for resolution.
Why choose Mediation?
Conflict is challenging. These events can be costly financially, mentally, and emotionally for each everyone involved. Mediation focuses on negotiation, conflict resolution, and and times, healing. It helps set the stage for future discussions and planning.
Mediators demonstrate solid conflict resolution skills. Other professionals may be included in the discussions including attorneys, financial specialists, valuation specialists, and others.
How does Mediation work?
A mediator works to bring balance and agreeable solutions to both parties involved. Instead of one party “winning” or dominating the other, both parties have an equal voice. The mediator is an unbiased professional who helps each person explore options and potential next steps. A mediator works towards workable solutions for all and provides guidance to disputants about how the court might look at their dispute.
Am I a good candidate for Mediation?
The people who succeed in mediation have certain qualities.
- They realize and accept that they need each other's cooperation to reach resolution
- They want to avoid court and negotiate fairly for a variety of reasons, including privacy, reputation, and cost
- They are willing to listen to and consider each other’s positions
- They are willing to compromise
Sometimes people know they have these qualities but are not sure the other party does. Maybe the other party used to be trustworthy but doesn’t seem like that lately. Maybe there is no relationship between the parties at all. If you are unsure about this, give Nancy a call for a free mediation phone consultation to discuss your concerns so Nancy can offer you the best guidance about whether mediation is right for you.
When can I start Mediation?
Many people wait too long before looking into mediating. While mediation can work at any time, you get the greatest satisfaction and value and save the most money if you begin mediation early in the cycle of dispute.
Will I need an attorney?
You may choose to select an attorney to assist with the mediation process. The lawyer acting as mediator may share generalized legal information. Your mediator cannot give either party personalized legal advice or opinions.
I recommend asking an independent attorney to review any agreement you have the mediator prepare before you sign it so you can be assured you are making the right choice for yourself, your business, your neighbors, or your community.
What are the benefits to Mediation?
Mediation provides many benefits over litigation. Most people comment that they like mediation because it:
- Provides greater flexibility and control over the outcome
- Takes less time to reach agreements
- Is less expensive
- Reduces heartache, anxiety and conflict
- Is confidential and private
- Is less formal-everyone’s needs and interests can be addressed
- Preserves relationships, allowing for greater opportunities for positive communication in the future
- Achieves better results with higher compliance rates than traditional litigation
How is Mediation different from going to court?
There are significant differences between mediation and court proceedings.
A mediator works to bring balance and agreeable solutions to both parties involved. Instead of one party “winning” or dominating the other, both parties have an equal voice. The mediator is an unbiased professional who helps each person explore options and potential next steps. A mediator works towards workable solutions for all.
A traditional proceeding is adversarial, where the attorneys contend for the best scenario for their client. Often this can lead to increased negative feelings and encounters. This process may include subpoenas, lengthy discovery requests, and years of financial documentation and net worth statements. All of this means increased time and costs you will never recoup.
Rather than focus on gathering as much information as possible to better leverage one party over the other, mediation focuses on working together towards resolution. The best result for all parties is desired and discussed.
Instead of a judge deciding an outcome, each party has more control over the end result.
How can we accomplish anything when we can't talk to each other?
A well-qualified mediator has the skills and ability to encourage and focus communication. They help each party realize that by working together through this trying time, it can save emotional and financial cost over going to court.
The mediator will facilitate communication. They allow each party to speak uninterrupted, explain further when needed, and answer follow-up questions. The mediator will explain actions and potential consequences for decisions as well as alternatives that may be available.
Are there different ways to complete Mediation?
Yes, there are three main models practiced by mediators. Some mediators may choose to practice only one of these models; you are encouraged to review and understand each at a high level. Nancy prefers a facilitative mediation model, especially when people engage mediation early in their process. When mediation happens late in a conflict, such as in the middle or at the end of a litigation process, she uses a more evaluative form of mediation to help disputants reach agreement. Transformative mediation is delicate, and Nancy draws on those skills based on the parties’ preferences and sensitivities to each other.
- Facilitative mediation focuses on collaborative communication. The mediator typically provides options but may not provide his/her opinion on the fairness of that option. Most of the sessions with this model are joint sessions instead of individual, and the mediator will focus on communication between the two parties.
- Transformative mediation is almost more therapeutic than facilitative. This model focuses on how you communicate with the other party and how to promote change effectively. Instead of solely seeking a settlement, the mediator will seek to help each party become empowered and improve communication. Many of the sessions with this model are joint sessions instead of individual, and the mediator will focus on transforming how the parties view the conflict.
- Evaluative mediation could consist of either joint or individual sessions. The main goal in this model is to reach a settlement. The mediator will explain each party’s position and legal perspective as they work to secure a resolution for the issues.
Will I receive a legally binding agreement?
Yes, once an agreement is signed it is legally binding. You may ask your mediator to prepare a settlement agreement for you, or you may take your agreement back to your lawyer(s) to prepare your agreement.
Will we have to appear in court?
That depends. One of the main benefits of mediation is that court appearances may be unnecessary. Be sure to speak with your lawyer about this.
Can other persons attend or participate in the Mediation session?
Professionals may attend, if both parties agree. The parties may bring a relative or friend for moral support in a limited capacity, if both parties agree. Speak with your mediator before bringing anyone with you to your mediation session.
What do I do first?
It’s easy. Contact us by email or call (360) 816-2246 for more information or to set up a private, free mediation phone consultation for you and your partner.