MEDIATION: How It Works

How mediation compares to arbitration and litigation

Mediation is an informal, confidential process. Mediation can usually happen in one day unless there are a number of complicated issues to resolve. Mediation allows the parties to keep control over the outcome of their case. It is also non-binding.

How mediation compares to arbitration and litigation

Both sides need to agree to mediate unless the court has ordered mediation. When it is court-ordered the case will proceed to mediation.

The parties do not need attorneys for mediation, but mediators often suggest that any agreement reached in a mediation be reviewed by each side's attorney.

Mediators may not give legal or financial advice to the parties.

Mediation Process: Joint Session & Caucuses

A mediation involves a joint session where both sides (and their attorneys if retained) meet with the mediator in a conference room. Each side gives a statement about the facts of the case. Both sides have an opportunity to speak.

If the dialogue breaks down, the parties may then engage in a caucus. For this, they are separated into different rooms to discuss the issues in more detail and negotiate positions.

During the caucus, the mediator visits each party in their separate rooms and uses techniques such as reality testing, reframing, venting and others.

The use of these two processes depends on how much progress is being made. In some cases, there are one or more joint sessions and a caucus. In other cases, a caucus may not be necessary. Mediation is a fluid process and the mediator will guide the parties as the process unfolds.

What to Bring to Your Mediation

You should bring all materials that you want to share with the mediator and/or the other parties. Some people bring documentation to support their position. Some use charts, graphics or photos. It is up to you what, if any information, you choose to bring to the mediation.

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