"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser—in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peace-maker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough...." —Abraham Lincoln (1, 2)
Abraham Lincoln was right to recommend compromise and peace making as the best ways to end a dispute. Mediation does just that -- it helps participants in a dispute to constructively explore ways to reach an agreement. It is useful for many kinds of disputes including divorce, child custody, and other family matters and for real estate, probate, and civil disputes. The benefits of mediation include:
Mediation is more flexible, less expensive, and faster than the court system
Participants choose the timing and ground rules of mediation
Participants discover their true "bottom line" -- what is really important and what is not
Participants make the final decision, not the court
Agreements tend to be longer lasting and more acceptable to participants
Mediation helps preserve relationships and can be easier on children
What happens during a mediation session?
In a mediation session, the participants will work with Chuck, a trained mediator, to negotiate an agreement. Participants may meet "caucus style", which means they are in separate rooms and Chuck travels between the rooms, or they may meet "joint style" where all parties are in one room and communicate directly. Chuck can use three methods of mediation depending on the wishes of the participants and the type of dispute:
Regular mediation: Participants and the mediator work together to explore ways to reach agreement. The mediator participates actively in the process, providing his or her opinions, recommendations, and evaluations. Participants may attend with or without their attorney.
Facilitated settlement: Participants work with each other to settle their disputes. A facilitator sets guidelines for the session and helps the parties communicate, but the facilitator does not provide opinions, evaluations, or recommendations. Attorneys usually attend with the participants.
Arbitration: Participants submit their disagreement to an arbitrator. The arbitrator makes a ruling in the dispute that is binding and final. Attorneys usually attend with the participants.
What does the mediator do?
In his role as mediator, Chuck provides guidance and structure; creates an encouraging, non-adversarial atmosphere; and helps participants identify key needs and realistic goals. He will actively work with all participants to reach agreement, but he will remain neutral and impartial.
How do I set up an appointment for mediation?
If you are working with an attorney, your attorney will set up the mediation session.
If you are not working with an attorney and wish to contact us directly for a mediation session, please contact the other party or parties first to see what dates and times would work for a joint appointment. Get a helpful worksheet.... With this information in hand, please call our office to schedule an appointment. Ask the other party to also call our office to confirm that you have their authorization to set up the mediation session.
How long does a mediation session take?
A mediation session will last a minimum of two hours. At the beginning of the first session, Chuck will explain the mediation process and learn about the issues you want to resolve. The rest of the time will be spent on the mediation itself.
Often a single session of several hours to a day is all that is needed, but sometimes one or more follow-up sessions are helpful. If you need more time, you can go longer than your scheduled time if there are no appointments after yours, or you can schedule a follow-up session.
What does a mediation session cost?
The cost is divided equally between the parties. The first two hours of mediation cost $x per person (a total of $x for the two hours). After the first two hours, the cost per hour is $x per person (a total of $x per hour).
Your first mediation session must be paid for at least three business days before your appointment. The cost for any additional time must be paid in full at the end of each session.
How can I cancel an appointment?
If you or the other party must cancel an appointment, do so at least 48 hours before the appointment, or you will both forfeit your part of the mediation fee.
How should I prepare for mediation?
After making an appointment, we will send a letter confirming your appointment to you and your attorney. Fill out the Personal Information Form. Mail this form and your payment for your half of the mediation cost to our office. The form and payment must arrive least three business days before your appointment.
Collect any legal pleadings, calculations, prior agreements, drawings, photographs, appraisals, and other evidence that will help to explain or support your position. Bring this information to the mediation session.
If the mediation is about child custody issues, learn the specific legal definitions of joint custody, joint physical care, legal custody, physical care, post-secondary education, and child support.
Should my attorney attend with me?
It is not necessary to bring your attorney for a regular mediation session, but an attorney may be required for a facilitated settlement or arbitration. If you want your attorney to attend, please contact your attorney for guidance and please let us know.
Can I bring other people to the mediation session?
Please do not bring family members, friends, children, or other people not specifically involved in the mediation. If you do want someone other than your attorney to attend a mediation session, please discuss this with us before the mediation session.