Frequently Asked Questions
In Family Mediation
What is mediation?
Mediation is an efficient and inexpensive process designed to help people reach the best outcome in a family dispute. A trained professional mediator assists you in focusing on the issues that must be resolved.
What training does someone need to become a mediator?
Most family mediators have completed a basic (40 hour) divorce and family mediation training course. In addition, mediators generally pursue additional training in the substantive issues.
What happens in mediation?
Usually participants and the mediator meet together in a private room. Each party speaks about what is important to him or her and listens to what is important to the other side. The mediator facilitates the discussion. Occassionally, the mediator may wish to speak with each participant privately and confidentially. The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong. The parties determine the outcome. The participants must mutually agree to any settlement.
What makes mediation successful?
Mediation will be successful if the participants negotiate in good faith, demonstrate flexibility in how to resolve matters, listen to the other side with an open mind, and share their point of view.
How confidential is mediation?
Mediation is a completely private process, not open to the public. You will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before beginning mediation. The mediator is bound by law to keep mediation discussions confidential.
Is a mediated agreement binding?
If the family issue has generated a legal proceeding filed in court, any agreement reached by the participants may be filed in court, approved by a judge, and made legally binding.
If your dispute is not filed in court, the agreement is usually considered to be a contract. Depending on the nature of the agreement and the dispute, if there is a breach of the contract you might be able to file a claim with the court.
How long are the sessions?
Generally, mediation sessions are scheduled to last approximately 2 hours, depending on the participants' needs and available time. Some prefer longer sessions while others find shorter ones more productive.
Will we meet weekly with the mediator?
At the initial mediation session, you will identify the issues that need to be decided. The issues, the urgency of the decisions, and how quickly the participants wish to proceed will determine the meeting schedule.
How long will mediation take?
Since each situation is different, it is difficult to predict exactly how long a specific mediation will last. Somewhere between 3 to 8 sessions is typical. In addition, the mediator will prepare a Memorandum of Understanding, outlining all of the agreements reached through the mediation process. Mediation is voluntary and any participant, including the mediator, may end it at any time.
How much will mediation cost?
Mediation costs will be based on an hourly fee. This fee will be charged for all mediation sessions and non-session work, such as time spent reviewing and drafting documents, telephone consultations, corrspondence, and consultations by the mediator with other professionals.
For example, assuming the participants meet with a mediator 5 times for 2 hours each time, and that there is an additional 2 hours of mediator time for drafting the Memorandum of Understanding, the cost of mediation at $150 per hour would be a total of $1800. This amount would generally be equally split among the participants.
Do I need a lawyer in order to use mediation?
You do not need a lawyer to go to mediation. However, mediators will recommend that participants consult an attorney with questions regarding their legal rights. A mediator focuses on bridging conflict through improved communication and facilitates the participants in reaching their own agreement. Even when the mediator is a lawyer, the mediator is not acting as a lawyer and cannot represent either mediation participant. A lawyer will provide legal counsel and can draft documents for filing with the court. One of the advantages of mediation is that a participant will likely use fewer legal services.
If I use mediation, will I still need to go to court?
Using mediation to resolve issues surrounding court proceedings does not necessarily eliminate a proceeding. However, if the participants are able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to all of the issues a legal proceeding may be withdrawn. If legal proceedings continue, the agreement may be submitted for court approval. If the court accepts the settlement, court appearances will likely be reduced. Generally, the more done outside of court to decide issues, the better.
What information must be disclosed?
If the goal of mediation is to reach a settlement regarding all the disputed issues all relevant information must be disclosed as part of the mediation process.
Provided by Johnson Mediation Services