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What Happens At A Mediation?

What Happens At A Mediation?

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) where the mediator, who is a neutral third party, tries to facilitate an agreement among the parties to a dispute as a wrongful death lawyer can share.

There is a general, albeit sometimes loose, structure at most mediations.  Here is what you can typically expect to happen at a mediation according to our friends at Kiefer & Kiefer:

1. Introduction And Overview.

The mediator starts the mediation by introducing himself/herself and explains the purpose and the process of the mediation.  The mediator then explains his or her role as a neutral facilitator and stresses the confidentiality of the proceedings.  The mediator should also review any guidelines or ground rules for participation at this time.

2. Opening Statements.

Each party usually then has the opportunity to present an opening statement in which they outline their point of view on the issues, express their goals of the mediation, and any key concerns or interests they hope to address at the mediation.

3. Joint Discussion.

After opening statements, the mediator will then facilitate a joint discussion among the parties.  Each party will have the opportunity to communicate directly with one another, sharing their views, interests, and concerns in a respectful, structured manner.  The mediator may assist by encouraging constructive dialogue and asking questions to clarify issues.  The joint discussion helps the parties learn each other’s viewpoints and perspectives, and to identify areas where they agree and disagree.

4. Private Caucuses.

After the joint discussion, the mediator then separates the parties, usually putting each party in a separate room.  The mediator then meets with each party separately in a private caucus to identify and explore their interests, concerns, strengths, weaknesses, and potential solutions more in depth.  The mediator may provide perspective, guidance, reality checks, and assistance in coming up with options for resolution in these private caucuses.  The communications during these caucuses are confidential, which helps the parties evaluate their options and proposals to both give and to receive.

5. NegotiationAnd Problem-Solving.

During the mediation process, the mediator is continuously helping the parties to reach common ground, come up with potential and sometimes creative solutions, explore alternatives, and to overcome any obstacles they may have in the interest of both parties.  The mediator facilitates and guides these negotiations and provides problem-solving techniques to get the parties to hopefully reach a middle ground.

6. Proposal And Agreement.

If the parties are able to reach a middle ground and have a mutually-acceptable resolution, then the terms of that resolution are usually put into a written settlement agreement.  Sometimes the mediator assists the parties in drafting the written settlement agreement or refers them to an attorney to draft if necessary.  Once the agreement is signed by all parties, the agreement becomes legally binding and enforceable.

7. Closure And Follow-Up.

After the parties arrive at their agreement, the mediator concludes the mediation by summarizing the agreement and explaining the next steps following the mediation.  Sometimes the parties ask questions to get additional clarification on the terms of the agreement.  The mediator may also provide guidance for implementing the agreement, and if necessary, in resolving any outstanding issues, and offer resources for any additional support or assistance needed.

A mediation is an excellent tool in helping the parties communicate effectively in a collaborative and respectful manner, with resolution as the common goal in mind. If you are in need of mediation services, contact an attorney near you.