When confronted with a dispute, mediation is an increasingly preferred method to resolve problems without the expense, time and stress of a trial. In fact, recognizing the benefits of mediation, many courts require parties to participate in mediation prior to trial. Our trained mediators can help you bring your matter to a sensible conclusion, working with both parties to help create a satisfactory result.
Attorneys Bob Young and Rebecca Simpson both handle a variety issues during mediation. Rebecca has extensive experience with family law matters, and she mediates many issues impacting families including: divorce; will and estate disputes; child custody and co-parenting disputes; parent relocation; grandparent visitation; property valuation, characterization and division; debt allocation; spousal support, and many other related matters. Bob Young’s experience encompasses many aspects of personal injury law, including car accidents, medical malpractice cases, product liability, wrongful death and tractor-trailer accidents.
A facilitative mediation will progress through several stages:
Initially the mediator will give an opening statement which may or may not be memorized but which will include pertinent information for the parties. It will begin with an introduction and a description of her/his training and experience, do an ethics check and get the names of the parties and their counsel or representatives. Then, administrative matters are discussed: The mediators fee; signing the Agreement to Mediate if not done in the initial contact phase; confidentiality of the proceedings; and the opportunity for subsequent review by counsel of any agreement. Next, the schedule for the conference and any future meetings are determined with breaks, lunch and additional rooms for private meetings. The process is described with a few simple rules of conduct: The parties will use common courtesy and allow each other to complete statements without interruption. They may use the writing pads and pencils provided to allow preservation of thoughts but must allow the pads to be collected and destroyed at the end of each session.
This is the longest period in which the mediator is expected to speak and throughout this opening will encourage the paries toward a good faith effort of settlement and full disclosure to the mediator. All conversations and materials presented in the mediation session are confidential unless otherwise discoverable in a court.
During this stage, each party will give an account of the facts and circumstances which lead to the dispute. Issues will be identified and summarized.
The disputants, jointly or in separate sessions (Caucus) with the mediator, will identify areas of settlement. The mediator may summarize the results of the private sessions with each party and encourage options. A realistic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s own position will be the goal of this stage. Negotiations and decision making by the parties will continue unless the mediator declares an impasse and ends the mediation or continues the mediation in a subsequent session.
The terms of any settlement will be written by the parties. If legal counsel is not present, the parties may elect to have the document reviewed by counsel and signed at a later date.
State mediator statutes have ethics provisions and generally a requirement to complete a certain number of hours in a training course on ethics. Most training programs allocate a substantial number of hours to ethics considerations. If there are no locally adopted rules, the trainers will discuss standards of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), the Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution (SPIDR) or the National Association of Security Dealers (NASD).