Mediation is a confidential voluntary process where an impartial third person called a mediator helps the parties settle their disputes. The goal of mediation is to provide a forum where the parties in conflict can communicate their needs and interests, and thereby take active roles in settling their disputes. The mediator gathers relevant information, helps the parties invent creative options for mutual gain, and assists the parties in making informed decisions to resolve their disputes. Facilitative mediation empowers people to control the decisions that affect their lives. While courts can require that certain cases go to mediation, the process is “voluntary”, meaning that the parties are not required to come to an agreement on every issue. If a mutually agreeable settlement cannot be reached, the parties still retain their right to litigate.
What are the Steps in Mediation?
- Mediation is scheduled and the disputing parties are notified of the date and time. The average mediation session lasts two to three hours, with additional sessions scheduled as needed.
- At the first mediation session, a trained mediator explains the mediation process to both individuals. The parties sign an Agreement to Mediate. Issues to be negotiated are discussed and goals are set.
- Each person has the opportunity to present his or her side of the problem, to explore options, and to suggest possible solutions.
- If the parties arrive at a mutual understanding, a written Memorandum of Understanding is drafted with the mediator’s assistance and signed by the parties.
What are the Advantages of Mediation?
- The participants are empowered to resolve their own disputes.
- Matters are private and confidential. Only the parties involved know what issues are discussed.
- Mediation is usually less costly than litigation.
- The escalation of minor matters into serious conflict is avoided.
- Mediation is scheduled quickly, allowing the parties to address their problems and move ahead with their lives.
- Related problems can be identified and referrals can be made to the appropriate agencies.
Mediation Services can be addressed to resolve the following types of issues:
- Separation and Divorce
- Post-Divorce Issues
- Cohabitation Arrangements
- Premarital Preparation
- Step-Family and Parenting Issues
- Restitution and Peer Conflicts
- Elder Care
- Small Business Disputes
- Landlord-Tenant Disputes
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