Mediation is an alternative to the litigation process. It is a forum where you and the other party work together to tailor solutions specifically to meet the needs of all involved in a safe and relaxed environment. Mediation is voluntary, private and a confidential process. The mediators who assist you through the process are neutral and will not favor one side or the other.
The mediator, a neutral third party, helps parties work together to resolve conflict.The mediator does not solve problems, but helps parties work together toward a mutually beneficial resolution.
The mediator controls the process; the parties control all the decision-making and thus, the resolution is a mutually-decided solution. Relationships can be preserved, as mediation is not an adversarial process. Parties take responsibility for their own solutions, so they are more likely to keep their agreements.
Some ways that the mediator controls the process is by making sure that all parties have a chance to speak and to be heard, and by making sure that the power of the parties is balanced – that one party does not “take over” the mediation. The mediator helps the parties communicate, clarify issues and brainstorm and/or negotiate solutions. Even when agreement on a solution is not reached, parties often walk away from the mediation with a better understanding of the other party’s position and improved communication between the parties results.
Most disputes can be mediated in one session of less than two hours. Complex issues do arise, especially in domestic relationships or Special Education mediation. In those instances, sessions may run longer or a subsequent session may be scheduled.
What to expect at the Mediation Session:
- The mediators introduce themselves, explain their role and introductions are made between the parties.
- The mediators explain the mediation process, the ground rules, and the Consent to Mediate document.
- Each party has the opportunity to share their concerns from their point of view, without interruption.
- The mediators identify and clarify the issues they hear from the parties. They encourage the parties to communicate directly with one another and will point out any common interests they hear. During this part of the process, the parties work together to resolve the dispute. There may be times during this process that the mediators meet with each party separately.
- Any terms of an agreement reacheed in mediation is put into writing and signed by all parties to the dispute. The signed agreement can be enforceable by the court, as is any other contact. Unlike litigation or arbitration where someone else is in control and makes the decision for the parties, in mediation the parties are in control and create their own resolution. This type of environment is meant to be productive and beneficial for all parties involved.