Mediation services are designed to assist disputants in resolving their disputes outside of the court process. The mediator’s expertise is used to help disputants communicate more effectively, frame or reframe issues so they can be more easily decided upon and identify creative solutions that may be available in order for the parties to reach an agreement. Mediations can last from a few hours to a full day and are generally conducted in private, closed sessions.
A negotiated settlement is usually reduced to a written document that is binding and can be enforced in court. The agreement can also include provisions for ongoing meetings with the mediator to resolve future disputes. In addition, the mediation process can repair or build working relationships between disputants and in some cases may even avoid a conflict altogether.
It is important that the parties are prepared for a mediation session. This means identifying their needs, interests and goals and understanding how those differ from the other party’s. The greater your understanding of the other party’s feelings, perspectives and needs the easier it will be to create a solution that will satisfy everyone’s expectations. Also, it is helpful to separate your interests from your positions, or proposed ways of satisfying those needs as it can be difficult to move an entrenched position in mediation. Lastly, if you are bringing a lawyer to your mediation, it is important that you discuss with them in advance what role they will play.