The Mediation Process
WHAT IS THE MEDIATION PROCESS LIKE?
Generally, your initial meeting may be an individual session to help prepare you for a joint session with the other party. At times, we meet with all parties at once for the first session. This will depend upon the nature and complexity of your case.
Your mediation may take place over one or multiple sessions. The mediation sessions may include the following components, or may follow a less formal format:
- Setting ground rules: The mediator will work with the parties to set rules of engagement to help make the best use of your time and maintain a collaborative environment.
- Opening statements: Each party may have an opportunity to summarize what they understand to be the issues and what their hopes are for a mediated solution.
- Response and elaboration: Parties may have an opportunity to respond to opening statements and elaborate in more detail on why they are taking their particular position.
- Clarifying the issues: The mediator may summarize their understanding of the issues to be addressed and the existing proposals for solutions. Parties will have an opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings, or ask questions of one another to be sure they understand each other’s positions.
- Exploring solutions: The mediator may facilitate a discussion to explore possible options consisting of those that have been proposed as well as new ideas generated by discussion. With the help of the mediator, parties may evaluate all possible solutions to find one or more that best meet the desires of all parties.
- Reaching agreement: Once ideas have been narrowed down, the mediator will facilitate discussion on how to create an effective agreement containing the solutions chosen by the parties.
HOW LONG DOES MEDIATION TAKE?
The length of the mediation depends upon the complexity and nature of the dispute, the number of parties involved, the willingness of parties to engage in the collaborative process, the ease of the parties' communication, and the flexibility of parties’ schedules. Some cases may take just three hours to complete. Others may take several sessions over a period of weeks or months. Your mediator may give you an estimate of how long this may take upon completion of all initial interviews.
WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE MEDIATION?
Individuals who chose mediation over litigation are often more satisfied with both the process and the results for a number of reasons:
- Mediation gives the parties more control over the outcome. You decide together what solutions work best for you, not the judge. You may still need the approval of a judge, but your mediator can help you draft an agreement that avoids terms that would be concerning to a judge.
- Parties may be more inclined to comply with agreements, as opposed to judicial orders, because they participated in creating the agreement and maintained control over the outcome. Many litigated decisions end up back in court because of an appeal, failure by one party to follow through, or new issues that arise that could have been anticipated in a mediated agreement.
- Parties in mediation experience less relational strain because the element of a “winner” and a “loser” has been removed from the process. In cases where the parties will have an ongoing relationship, such as family and workplace matters, mediation can help parties learn to communicate more effectively to avoid trouble down the road.
- The collaborative process usually takes less time because the parties are working together and do not have to adhere to a court-prescribed timeline. Litigation involves each party “digging their heels in” which naturally results in a longer process with more negative impact on the relationship.
- Because mediation can take less time than litigation, the cost of mediation can be considerably lower than that of litigation.