What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where a neutral third party (mediator) meets with two or more people to help them resolve a dispute. The mediator can help you to reach an agreement but will not tell you what to do nor make the decisions for you.
Characteristics of Mediation
mediation is confidential – whatever is said during the mediation discussion should not be repeated outside of the mediation. One exception is that each party is free to discuss matters raised in the mediation with their attorney, if they have one.
mediators are neutral – the mediator will not be biased towards one of the parties and if there is any reason why this is not the case, then the mediator will advise the parties of the conflict. The mediator will be neutral as to the terms of the agreement, not favoring a certain result for one party or the other.
mediation is private - this is due to the fact that the mediation takes place with a mediator in a private location and not within an open, public courtroom. Mediation agreements are written up and often filed with the court, but not always. Your mediator can prepare summaries of your sessions and these summaries can be the foundation for your final agreement.
Steps in the Mediation Process
Typically, the parties will meet with the mediator for multiple appointments to resolve their dispute. It is possible for attorneys to attend with their clients if they have been retained and the party wishes to include their attorney.
The mediation conversation will usually include these steps:
- parties provide background information to the mediator
- they identify the issues they wish to discuss
- the parties provide any relevant information pertaining to the issue to the mediator and the other party
- each party provides a resolution that will meet their needs and why it is important to them to resolve the matter in this way
- the parties negotiate and agree on a resolution with the help of the mediator
- the mediator summarizes the agreement after the meeting and shares the summary with the parties
After the parties have discussed all the issues they wish to discuss, the mediator will prepare a final summary which can be turned into a formal court order and submitted to the Family Court.