Mediation is a form of dispute resolution in which a neutral third party, the mediator, helps the parties reach a voluntary agreement without going to court. The mediator has no authority to impose a decision, so nothing is decided unless both parties agree on it. This form of resolution can be used in most non-criminal cases and is proven to be effective with mutual satisfaction. Before deciding whether mediation is right for you, it’s important to understand the stages that take place and how to make it work.
Stage 1: Mediator’s Opening Statement
The mediator will start the conversation by introducing everyone, explaining the goals and rules of the mediation, and encouraging both parties to work cooperatively.
Stage 2: Disputants’ Opening Statement
Each party has the opportunity to tell their side of the story, one at a time. They will most likely describe what the dispute is about and how he or she has been affected by it. They may then also present some general ideas on how to resolve the problem.
Stage 3: Join Discussion
At this point, it is time for both parties to determine which issues need to be addressed. The mediator may ask questions to get the parties talking and move the conversation forward.
Stage 4: Private Caucuses
A private caucus is a chance for each party to meet privately with the mediator. This may occur just once with each side or several times. The mediator and each party can discuss strengths and weaknesses of their position and new ideas to reach a settlement.
Stage 5: Joint Negotiation
After the private caucuses, the mediator will bring the parties back together to negotiate face to face.
Stage 6: Closure
If an agreement has been reached, the mediator will put the main provisions in writing and may ask each side to sign the written summary of agreement. If no agreement has been reached, the mediator will advise the parties of their options, such as another meeting or going to court. The written summary of agreement may also be taken to a lawyer for review.
In mediation, the goal is not to win. The goal is resolution. It is important to be respectful, cooperative, and willing to compromise. If you have questions about mediation or need guidance, do not hesitate to reach out to us at (800) 969-4400.