Parties come to mediation because they have a conflict that needs to be resolved. It could be a civil conflict involving contract disputes, real estate or workplace issues, or it could be family disputes like a
divorce, child custody, or even elder care needs and concerns.
One thing that is similar in every case is that the parties are nervous
about the process. So let’s walk through it!
When parties arrive, they will be greeted by the Mediator. He or She will inquire about how each party would like to be addressed.
Once the mediator has shown everyone to their seats, she will formally introduce herself and explain her neutrality to the group. The mediator will make sure all parties are attending in good faith and agree to mediate. She will discuss housekeeping items, like where the bathrooms are, and welcome everyone to partake of any snacks proved. She will explain the ground rules, like no weapons, no recording, confidentiality etc. Next, she will read a confidentiality agreement with the group and have everyone sign it if they haven’t already signed one during the initial intake process.
After this, she will explain to you the steps in the mediation process.
Each party is given uninterrupted time to introduce themselves and their reason for being there along with what they hope to accomplish through the mediation.
After the uninterrupted introductions, the parties will engage in a discussion about their conflict; this includes questions, comments, and materials brought to the mediation. During this discussion, the mediator will help navigate the conversation with clarifying questions. If a party needs to speak privately with the mediator,
they may as for what is called a caucus.
A caucus is when a party takes time to speak with the mediator alone to discuss a concern or to clarification or guidance on how to approach a subject with the other party. The caucus is also confidential. The mediator will offer an equal amount of time with the other party to caucus as well. She will give equal time to all other parties before the mediation continues.
As the parties’ discussion progress into negotiation, the Mediator will take notes on all points of
interest and agreeables to keep the parties on track.
Soon, the parties will have reached an agreement. At this point, the mediator will act as a scribe and record the agreement in a document called a Mediated Settlement Agreement, which is legally binding. The agreement is written in detail and to the parties’ satisfaction. Once completed and reviewed, the parties will sign.
Then, the parties have a resolution through mediation!