Mediation is a way to resolve disputes without using the courts. Because the courts are not involved, the process is informal, which allows for more creative, and thorough problem solving. As the mediator, my job is to facilitate the discussion between the parties. I remain neutral and objective, and help both parties progress toward a resolution.
During the mediation, both parties and I will meet in the same room. However, if needed, the parties can be separated, and I will shuttle back and forth to present offers. I will explain the process and the ground rules. Each party then has the chance to share their version of the dispute uninterrupted. We will then proceed naming the issues to be discussed. After any and all issues are presented, the parties will begin discussing the issues in the order they choose. This involves making offers, negotiating, and hopefully agreeing on solutions. Either party can request to meet with me privately at any time (called a caucus). After all the issues are discussed, and if agreements are made, I will write a contract outlining the terms of the agreement. It is then incumbent on the parties to honor that contract. It is important to note that it is not required that the parties agree to any terms. Furthermore, either party can terminate the mediation at any time.
My job is to ask questions, manage the emotions in the rooms, help the parties negotiate, and control the process. The courts are rigid, expensive, adversarial, and time consuming. Mediation is a wonderful alternative dispute resolution process because it is typically cheaper, takes less time, and is private. Mediation can provide any type of resolution the courts can, but also any other creative solutions the parties agree to. There is power in the process, and I believe in this method of resolving disputes.