Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is mediation?
Mediation is a process in which you and the other party are guided by the mediator to reach an agreement acceptable to everyone involved. After a settlement or a partial settlement is reached, a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) is signed. The MSA agreement is a legally enforceable contract. Each party keeps a copy of the signed MSA and if legal action has already been taken in the dispute, the MSA will be filed with the court.
2. What happens in mediation?
When you arrive at mediation, your party will be shown into a mediation conference room and the opposing party or parties will be shown into different conference rooms. You do not need an attorney to mediate, however if counsel represents you it is advisable to have your attorney at the mediation. Mediation is not a hearing or a trial, it is informal and centered around the parties in the dispute. The mediator will then meet with each party separately. The agreement to mediate and confidentiality forms will be explained and signed. The party will then be given the opportunity to explain the issues in the dispute.
If all the parties are willing and the mediator determines it will be productive the parties may then meet in a single conference room. If at any time any party is uncomfortable in the same room with another party the mediation will be conducted in separate conference rooms. Mediation may be conducted with the parties never seeing each other. Further if any information may not be shared with the other party it will be kept in the strictest confidence by the mediator.
The mediator then gathers the facts that are pertinent to each issue, checking that each side agrees on the basic facts, for example, the Blue Book value of a car in an automobile dispute, last year’s income tax return in a divorce dispute or an employee’s health care coverage in a workplace dispute. It is important to bring all the information pertinent to the dispute with you to the mediation. Call the mediator if you are not sure what information to bring. Of course bring any documents, contracts, court orders or letters that are the subject of the dispute.
Each issue, problem and stumbling block will be discussed. The parties and the mediator will propose options until a satisfactory solution is agreed upon. Creative solutions can be adopted in mediation that are not available to the courts. This gives the parties a great deal of freedom to control the final agreement. The Mediation Settlement Agreement will then be written, edited, reviewed thoroughly, signed and if appropriate filed with the court.
Why should I choose mediation:
Minimizes the cost-exposure entailed in settling the dispute
Maintains control over the dispute-settlement process
Maintains confidentiality concerning the dispute
Preserves relationship between the parties to the dispute
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