Peacemaker Services, Inc.

Mediation FAQ

What is mediation?

Mediation is a highly effective form of settlement conference in which a trained and skilled neutral (the mediator) facilitates communication, reconciliation and negotiation between the parties, in order to achieve the voluntary and mutually acceptable resolution of disputes.

What goes on at a mediation session?

There are two types of meetings that occur: 1) the joint session where all party representatives meet with the mediator and outline the basic issues and contentions of the case; and, 2) the caucus - private and confidential meetings between the mediator and each of the parties.

What are the advantages of mediation?

Lets you - not a judge or jury -develop your own solutions; --May offer you fast resolution of your dispute; --May be less expensive than going to court; --May mend your relationship with the other parties; and --Still allows you to go to court if you cannot reach a mutually-acceptable solution.

If I choose mediation, will I still need a lawyer?

In most mediations, you won't need a lawyer right there with you. This is because the parties are trying to work together to solve their problem -- not trying to convince a judge or arbitrator of their point of view -- and because mediation rules are few and straightforward. If however, your case involves substantial property or legal rights, you may want to consult with a lawyer before the mediation to discuss the legal consequences of possible settlement terms. You may also want to make a lawyer's approval a condition of any agreement you reach.

If the parties reach a settlement, is it enforceable?

If settlement is achieved, typically the parties will sign a settlement agreement, reviewed and approved by their attorneys. This agreement is enforceable like any other contract once it is signed.

How can I be sure mediation will produce a fair result?

In mediation, you and the opposing parties will work out a solution to your own dispute. Unless you freely agree, there will be no final resolution. This approach has several advantages over going to court: Legal precedents or the whim of a judge will not dictate the solution. If your dispute has undiscovered or undisclosed issues, mediation -- unlike a structured court battle -- gives you the opportunity and the flexibility to ferret them out. Because mediation doesn't force disputants to undergo the fear and sometimes paranoia of the courtroom, -- where a judge or jury can stun either party with a big loss -- people who choose mediation tend to be more relaxed and open to compromise.

What if the mediation does not result in a settlement?

The parties lose nothing. They may still go to court to resolve their case and what they learn about their case may help the case settle later. Follow up studies show that about two thirds of the cases that did not initially settle in mediation do settle before trial.

If the case is not settled, can the mediator be a witness or talk to the Judge?

It is Peacemaker Services policy that the mediator can neither be a witness nor talk to anyone about the case. Additionally, it is Peacemaker Services policy that neither the parties nor their attorneys may introduce into evidence what happened or did not happen during the mediation. The confidentiality of mediation is also protected by State statutes.

How long does mediation take?

Typical mediation cases, such as consumer claims, small business disputes, or auto accident claims, are usually resolved after a half day or, at most, a full day of mediation. Cases with multiple parties often last longer: Add at least an hour of mediation time for each additional party. Major business disputes -- those involving lots of money, complex contracts, or ending a partnership -- may last several days or more. Private divorce mediation, where a couple aims to settle all the issues in their divorce -- property division, alimony, child custody, visitation, and support -- generally requires mediation sessions spread over several weeks or months.

Who pays for the mediation?

Usually the parties split the cost of the mediation. However, in some situations one or the other of the parties involved may agree to cover the entire cost of the mediation. This sometimes happens in personal injury cases involving insurance companies but is not uncommon in other types of mediation.