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What is Mediation?

Mediation is a problem solving process in which a neutral and impartial third person acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute. It is an informal and non-adversarial process intended to help you reach a mutually acceptable agreement where you both “win.”

Mediation is based on concepts of communication, negotiation, facilitation, and problem solving that emphasize self-determination, the needs and interests of the participants, fairness, procedural flexibility, confidentiality, and full disclosure.

The Mediation Process

When mediation begins, the mediator will describe the mediation process and the role of the mediator. You will be advised that mediation is a consensual process, that the mediator is an impartial facilitator without authority to impose a solution, and that communications made during mediation are confidential.

The mediator manages the mediation process and procedures. You can communicate privately with your attorney during mediation. Sometimes there is an agreement that mediation proceed without attorneys present. If an agreement is reached and your attorney is not present at the mediation, your attorney has 10 days to review the agreement with you and advise you about the agreement.

Although mediation is informal, make an effort not to interrupt. If you want to comment or make a statement, write it down and bring it up at the next opportunity. Do not make negative or mean-spirited remarks about any other person in the mediation conference.

The mediator may stop the mediation conference at any time and may set times for follow up meetings. If, in the mediator’s judgment, further mediation meetings would be appropriate, productive and likely to yield meaningful results, then mediation can continue beyond a single session. Don’t forget that the problems and concerns that brought you to mediation occurred over a long period of time. A few hours may not be a realistic time frame to try to work through and resolve the issues.

If a party fails to appear without good cause at a mediation conference for which he or she had notice, the Court may award mediator and attorney fees and other costs against the participant who failed to appear. Make sure you attend scheduled mediation.

If no agreement is reached during mediation, the mediator will report the lack of agreement to the Court without comment or recommendation. With the consent of the parties, the mediator’s report may identify any pending motions or outstanding legal issues, discovery process, or other action by any party which, if resolved or completed, would facilitate the possibility of a settlement.

If an agreement is reached on any issue, the agreement must be put in writing, signed by the parties and their attorneys, if any and if present, and submitted to the Court unless the parties agree otherwise. If the attorney for any party is not present when the agreement is reached, the mediator must mail a copy of the agreement to the attorney within five days. That attorney has 10 days from the date the agreement was mailed to serve a written objection on the mediator, unrepresented parties and other attorneys in the case. If no objection is filed, the agreement is presumed to be approved by counsel and is filed with the Court by the mediator.

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