1. What are the benefits of resolving our disputes through mediation as opposed to the court resolving our disputes?
The benefits to mediation are numerous. Unlike going through the courts, mediation is a private process; mediation is a less expensive alternative to resolving disputes; mediation results in agreements the parties come up with themselves rather than having orders dictated by a court; parties are more likely to abide by the agreements they come up with together; mediation can improve the relationships and communications between parties; the court process can be very divisive and can deteriorate the relationships between parents.
2. What is the role of the mediator?
The mediator is a neutral person in the process who assists the parties in identifying and organizing the issues to be addressed at mediation. The mediator keeps the parties focused on what the issues are and facilitates constructive discussions. The mediator does not take sides and does not take a position as to how the parties' issues should be resolved. The mediator assists the parties in identifying what their needs are and how these needs can be met through mutual agreements and understandings.
3. Who selects the mediator we will use?
The mediator is mutually agreed upon and selected by the parties. If the parties are unable to agree, then the mediator is often selected by the court.
4. Are we required to reach an agreement in mediation?
No. Mediation is a voluntary process and whether you reach any agreements is up to you. You may elect to withdraw from mediation at any time. However, you are expected to use your best efforts to come to a resolution in mediation.
5. Who makes the decisions in mediation?
The parties are the ones who make the decisions in mediation and are the ones who determine the outcome of the process. If the parties are unable to reach agreements, the mediator does not make the decision for them. Rather, the mediator guides the parties to an understanding of what is important to them. The mediator also assists the parties in identifying options they may not have considered.
6. Will we have the opportunity to talk to anyone or seek advice from anyone during the mediation?
Yes. Either party may talk to or seek advice from anyone they choose during the mediation process such as your lawyer, religious advisor, financial advisor, family, friends, etc.
7. Do we have to have an attorney to participate in mediation?
No. It is not required that you have an attorney to participate in mediation. However, if you do have an attorney it is recommended that your attorney participate in the mediation process with you. Also, since mediators cannot give legal advice, even if they are an attorney, you are encouraged to seek advice for your specific legal issues before or at any time during the mediation process.
8. What happens if we don't reach an agreement during mediation?
If the parties do not reach an agreement during the mediation process, they proceed to court to resolve their disputes. If the disputes are set for a hearing before the court, each party will have an opportunity to present their evidence and witnesses and arguments to the court. The court will then decide the outcome.
9. What happens when we reach agreements during mediation?
Agreements reached during mediation are put into writing. This document is referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU. The MOU is signed by the parties (and their attorneys if one has been retained). The MOU is submitted to the court for review and approval.Once the MOU is approved by the court, it becomes an order of the court.
10. What types of disputes can be resolved through mediation?
Any dispute can be resolved through mediation including divorce, custody disputes, parenting time disputes, child support and/or maintenance (alimony) disputes, neighbor disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, etc.
11. Do we have to be in the same room during the mediation?
No. However, in most circumstances mediation is most effective and efficient if the parties are together during the process. However, there are some situations where having the parties separated would be more appropriate. Whether the parties should or could be in separate rooms during the mediation session should be addressed in advance of the actual session. If there is a protection order or no contact order in place, this must be discussed with the mediator in advance of the mediation session.
12. Can I bring someone with me to the mediation?
Yes. Either party may bring anyone to the mediation if they choose to do so. However, that person will not be permitted to sit in with the parties and the mediator unless everyone agrees. It is highly recommended that mediation be limited to the parties only (and their attorneys if one has been retained).
13. Can children attend mediation?
Generally, no. Only in extraordinary circumstances would children be permitted to attend mediation. In the event it would be appropriate, then both parents would have to agree and any court appointed representative for the child(ren) must consent to the children attending the mediation.
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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.