What is Mediation
Mediation is the moderated discussion between two or more parties in conflict. It is moderated by a neutral third party, the mediator, with the goal of coming to an agreement all parties can adhere to moving forward.
How does the process work
At first the parties and the mediator will be in the same room. We will discuss the process in more depth. The mediator will further explain the rules governing mediation. Once his opening statement is complete, the mediator will yield the floor to each party to discuss--without interruption-- their issues that led up to the need for mediation and their hopeful outcome of the session. We may at that time or at different times throughout process break up into what is called a caucus, where we meet individually to discuss your side in private. The private meetings allow the parties to share information with the me and come up with and test possible solutions and ideas, before presenting them to the other party.
Do I need an Attorney for Mediation
If you are represented by counsel, you may bring your attorney to the mediation. However, counsel is not required. If your attorney does not participate and a written agreement is created during the mediation process, you may take the agreement to your attorney for review, before it is finalized. You may also contact your attorney via telephone at any time during the mediation. Please understand, the mediator is not there to represent either party. He is a neutral party to help facilitate the agreement between the conflicting parties.
Is Mediation legally binding
Not unless agreed upon by all parties involved. If any party is unsatisfied or does not agree to the solution, then they are free to end the mediation. All parties have to reach and sign a written agreement for the process to be legally binding. Without a court order, the Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) acts as a contract binding all parties to the terms of the contract. If part of a court proceeding, the MSA gets submitted to the court where it will then be a part of the court's ruling which will then bind all parties to the terms.
What are the benefits to Mediation
Mediation is a confidential and voluntary process. Confidential means that whatever you say in mediation will not be repeated outside the mediation by the mediator. If the mediation is not successful and you go to court or another legal proceeding, the mediator cannot be subpoenaed or required to testify in court, nor can any/all records or paperwork be used in the court proceeding. Voluntary means all parties intend upon and agree to negotiate in good faith. If a party does not want to negotiate then there cannot be a mediation session. It also means that the mediation can be terminated at any time in the process by either party.