What is Mediation? Mediation is facilitated negotiation. Mediation seeks a mutually beneficial solution. Parties discuss their values and motivations. Solutions evolve as parties understand each other, gain knowledge and explore resources. A trained mediator facilitates the meetings. The mediator remains neutral and does not make decisions for the parties. The dispute is settled only if parties are in agreement.
Is Mediation Effective? Studies of mediation of domestic disputes show 95% of participants did not believe mediation would work before they began. Yet 71% reached agreement on some, if not all, the issues they faced. Doubt is normal and does not predict the outcome of mediation. Divorced couples who had a judge decide the outcome of their divorce are 7-8 times more likely to bring future disputes to the court than those who mediated.
Is Mediation for Everyone? If a person is afraid to be in the same room as the other party or does not feel able to speak up or disagree with them, mediation might not be appropriate. Such concerns should be shared with the party’s attorney and mediator before mediation sessions.
What Happens During Mediation? Generally the mediator opens the session with an introduction. Rules for the discussion are established. Issues are identified. The parties may be invited to state what they want and why. Discussions follow. The mediator summarizes agreements reached.
Types of Mediation: The extent to which the mediator directs the outcome of mediation varies from mediator to mediator. On one end of the continuum are mediators who refuse to interject their opinions into the process. On the other extreme a mediator might evaluate the evidence and arguments of the parties and recommend a specific outcome. In some mediation sessions the parties stay in constant contact with each other. In other mediations, the mediator uses a process called caucuses. A caucus is a meeting with the mediator and just one side to the dispute. The mediator may shuffle between separate rooms where the parties are and communicate information, listen, ask questions and discuss the arguments and evidence presented by the other side. The type of mediation used depends upon the mediator, the issues to be decided, and the desires of the parties.