Gradually growing in popularity due to the relatively inexpensive nature of being able to solve disputes from the very simple to the complex, mediation has become the “go to” method for many people. Not wanting to become mired in the traditional, adversarial-based, justice system that has long been our societal mainstay, many different groups as well as individuals have turned to the category of alternative dispute resolution. One of the extremely successful tools in alternative dispute resolution has been mediation.
From ancient times to now, humans have often respected and followed the direction of a neutral party for resolutions of simple disputes on up to very complex issues. This is one of the keys to mediation, a respected, neutral, third party. The other key is you and a willingness to make mediation work.
How do you select the right mediator for you? To ensure a more satisfactory outcome make sure the mediator you picked has been trained in mediation and dispute resolution practices and ideally has a background in law. A mediator should have experience in the area you are trying to mediate, for instance if you are trying to mediate a child custody plan then the mediator should have knowledge and experience in child custody. Find an experienced seasoned mediator; don’t go for the newbie down the block because their rates are rock bottom.
Finally, understand the steps and process of mediation. Many people have a very interesting view of mediation, some think that you all sit down, hash it out, magically come to a meeting of the minds, sing Kumbaya and everyone goes away happy and all is well. This is not exactly what happens, mediation is much more structured and resolution and fact based.
These are the usual steps to mediation:
- Mediator’s opening statement – the mediator introduces everyone, explains the goals and rules of the mediation, and encourages each side to work cooperatively toward a settlement.
- Disputants’ Opening Statements. Each party is invited to describe, in his or her own words, what the dispute is about and how he or she has been affected by it, and to present some general ideas about resolving it. While one person is speaking, the other is not allowed to interrupt.
- Joint Discussion. The mediator may try to get the parties talking directly about what was said in the opening statements. This is the time to determine what issues need to be addressed.
- Private Caucuses. The private caucus is a chance for each party to meet privately with the mediator (usually in a nearby room) to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of his or her position and new ideas for settlement. The mediator may caucus with each side just once, or several times, as needed.
- Joint Negotiation. After caucuses, the mediator may bring the parties back together to negotiate directly.
- This is the end of the mediation. If an agreement has been reached, the mediator may put its main provisions in writing as the parties listen. The mediator may ask each side to sign the written summary of agreement or suggest they take it to lawyers for review. If the parties want to, they can write up and sign a legally binding contract. If no agreement was reached, the mediator will review whatever progress has been made and advise everyone of their options, such as meeting again later, going to arbitration, or going to court.
The process of mediation is here to stay, in the past 30 years mediation has experienced incredible growth in the American legal system. This growth is due in part because of high litigation costs, the adversarial nature of a court case, the extensive time requirements of litigation and the impacted court system. Mainly it comes down to money, time and sanity. Mediation costs about 80% less than court and legal counsel costs. Since you are not at the mercy of a crowded court calendar, your length of time to a resolution is much quicker. Finally, sanity, in a mediated situation you are not pitted against each other and required to be adversarial in order to get your maximum benefit. Mediators are required to be neutral and are charged with the task of making a solid solution for both sides. For these reasons, mediation is quickly growing in popularity.
Mediator at West Coast Family Mediation Center
All of our West Coast Family Mediation Center mediators have their Juris Doctor (JD), are Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFA), have extensive mediation training and have had many, many years experience in mediating different types of family mediation cases.
At West Coast Family Mediation center we strive to make sure that you and your family are taken care of in the best way possible and work with you to connect you with the resources you need moving forward. If you think mediation would help you, contact our mediators at West Coast Family Mediation Center.
by: Amanda Singer