Introduction to Mediation
Disagreements are usually settled based on power or rights or interests. Disputants who don’t have to deal with each other ever again, often settle disputes using power or rights. Disputants who deal with each other after settlement are more willing to settle disputes in a way that gives some satisfaction to all sides. Mediation is not based on power or rights. Agreements which are somewhat satisfactory to all involved are important for people who will have dealings with each other after settlement.
POWER — The person with the most power or money gets to decide.
RIGHTS — Someone, perhaps a judge, decides based on who has the rights or who is right.
INTERESTS — Agreements based on each person’s wants instead of bargaining over positions.
- help you recognize how what you want is important to you
- level the playing field by managing the process
- let you talk without being interrupted
- clarify concerns to avoid misunderstandings
- help you get a fresh look at options
- provide realistic understanding of what happens when mediation doesn’t work
- keep confidential what is discussed in mediation
- draft up any agreements you make
- report to the court whether or not agreement is reached
- make decisions for you
- give legal advice
- fix personalities or relationships
- take either side
- pressure you to agree to something you don’t really want
- testify in court
To make the most of the mediation process:
- bring up and discuss your issues and concerns
- focus on what your children need to thrive (in custody matters)
- brainstorm options which meet the other party’s needs also
- consider many possibilities–be creative–no threats or ultimatums
- show respect to the other party–no blaming, no name-calling, no put-downs
- focus on the future instead of getting stuck on what went wrong in the past
- be honorable–say what you mean and mean what you say
You are strongly encouraged to have your attorney advise you throughout the mediation process and review any agreement reached in mediation. Depending on the number of issues, agreement can generally be reached in 5 – 10 hours. The fewer the issues, the faster the process.