Is Mediation for me?
You may be wondering if mediation is for you.
Ask yourself the questions below. If your answer to many of them is yes, you may be a good candidate for mediation:
I would like to have the freedom to decide for myself, not the courts.
What’s good for my children is a priority.
Focus on the future is important.
I want to reduce conflict between the other party and me.
I want a swift and efficient solution to my issues.
If you are hesitant to have a lawyer involved in your process you may agree with the following statements:
I prefer to not have a bunch of professionals or opinions involved.
I don’t want to have to spend the money to involve professionals.
I want the freedom to think for myself and don’t want to be influenced by a lawyer’s opinion and have that affect the negotiations.
I believe that I am a good negotiator and can do this myself.
If I decide to go ahead what happens next?
First you will choose a Family Mediator
Each party must meet with the Family Mediator independently prior to committing to the mediation process. This meeting will allow each party to fully understand the process and to allow the Family Mediator, in an objective space, to learn about each party’s perspective on the issues and potential blocks to resolution. The Family Mediator’s role is to facilitate the parties’ discussions and to assist the parties to resolve their conflict and work diligently toward the desired outcome, a win/win.
Before the Family Mediation process can begin, the parties and the Mediator must review and sign an Agreement to Mediate form on our resource page which commits all parties to the Process and to avoiding court-imposed resolution.
Engage in joint meetings
First meeting: the parties and the Mediator sign the Participation Agreement, identify each party’s interests (concerns, hopes, expectations, assumptions, priorities, beliefs, fears, values, needs), and create a list of issues and priorities for resolution. Usually time permits for the most pressing issues to be discussed and at least a temporary resolution to be put into place until a longer-term resolution can be reached. A “to do” list is created for all parties at the end of each session so that everyone knows what they must do before or for the following meeting.
we hit the ground running at all subsequent meetings. We address each issue identified for resolution in the order as agreed between the parties. Information is exchanged, solutions are brainstormed, and resolution is reached on each issue.
Prepare Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding
Once resolution is reached on each topic identified, the Family Mediator will prepare either a form of Agreement or a Memorandum of Understanding. The agreements reached in Family Mediation are non-binding on the parties until they place their verbal agreements into a legally binding format. If the Mediator prepares the Agreement, then the parties can take this Agreement to their own lawyer to have it reviewed and signed separately from the other party. If the Mediator prepares a Memorandum of Understanding, then the parties can take this to their lawyer to put it into the form of either an Agreement or a Court Order.
What role does a lawyer play in mediation?
Sometimes a lawyer is the mediator and once you have an agreement the two of you both will need separate counsel to create the final agreement. You always have the right to have your lawyer present with you at your mediation session(s) or you may want to consult with your lawyer in between sessions. Many parties, though, choose to keep the meetings as 3-way meetings including the parties and the mediator alone and simply to discuss the final result with their lawyer at the end. If I manage the mediation process I usually require you both have independent counsel to sign off on what we have created.
How long can this take?
Most families average 2-5 sessions which can take about 2 hours per session, which then usually translates into 2-6 months for a full resolution. Sometimes parties decide to engage in full-day mediation sessions, which can cause the process to be expedited in many cases. Things that impact timing are how much conflict exists between you, how many issues you are managing and how much time it will take between meetings.
What are the possible benefits or results that come from this process?
Less conflict, which usually means less stress.
Often it ends up to be a less expensive resolution than Court.
Communication between you can often be enhanced.
You often understand each other’s opinions and differences in a more powerful way.
Each person often feels ‘heard’.
Choices feel voluntary and like they are informed choices versus choices made under pressure or by someone else.
Focus on the needs and interests of the children.
An effective and sustainable co parenting plan can be created.
Future challenges and disputes are better managed with the skills gained through the mediation process.
please download and complete our Agreement to Mediate form on our resource page, then return them to our office by fax, email, or drop them off.