Picking the Mediator and Introductions
To mediate successfully, you will need to find an impartial professional who is thoroughly trained. Investigate the background and areas of expertise and experience the mediator will bring to your discussions.
Sometimes, the mediator may be appointed by a court. In Virginia, court-appointed mediators have extensive training, mentorship and continuing education requirements. Even if your case is not being referred by a court, find out if your mediator is Virginia Certified or certified by a similar authority in your state.
Getting the Mediator “Up To Speed”
To start, the mediator explains what mediation is and the mediator’s role is in the process. The mediator explains the confidentiality of the process and what parts may not be confidential (such as allegations of child abuse, threats of criminal activity, resulting agreements, etc.). If all participants wish to go forward, everyone present including the mediator will sign an agreement to mediate and the mediation begins.
The mediator may need to be brought up to date on the events leading up to the meditation. The mediator will ask each participant his perspective on what brings everyone together for the mediation. Depending on the complexity of the facts, these descriptions can take anywhere from a few minutes to much longer.
Understanding the Issues
How many times have you had a discussion (or argument) with someone only to discover that you really didn’t disagree? It was really a matter of understanding what everyone’s concerns were.
Once an effective mediator understands the facts that led the participants to the mediator, the mediator will work with everyone to frame the issues.
What happens next varies greatly. If there’s little question about what each participant hopes to get from the mediation, everyone may meet together to explore options that would satisfy as many of the needs of the participants as possible. On the other hand, if the participants have a great deal of animosity but are nonetheless interested in finding a mutual solution, the mediator may ask the participants to meet with the mediator in separate sessions.
What can be counted on is an orderly presentation of the issues involved. Creative ideas for resolution are encouraged by the mediator, but resolutions are always entirely up to the participants.
If a solution is reached, either the mediator or the participants’ attorneys would create a document reflecting the agreement. If attorneys are not involved, the mediator will act as the scribe for the participants who would then be encouraged to seek legal advice to review the agreement. Even if your mediator is an attorney, the mediator is not ethically permitted to give legal advice to any of the participants.
If the mediation is completed successfully, the participants will have an agreement that resolves their differences, is created confidentially, and is probably more flexible than a court-ordered solution. And it was probably completed for much less money than might have been spent otherwise.
For examples of creative results possible through mediation as opposed to litigation, take a look at our resource: Mediation: The Creative Alternative
Our Child & Spousal Support Calculators:
Resolution Point offers remote mediation services at no extra charge when parties can’t be in the same room due to schedules or other conflicts:
- ▪ 4-way phone conference calling
- ▪ Video conferencing
- ▪ Internet connectivity which allows parties to watch everything remotely on their computer screen as it’s happening in our office.
WHAT OTHERS SAY
“I wanted to introduce myself as the attorney who has been retained by [one of your mediation clients] to review, and comment upon, the draft settlement agreement that you previously prepared…. I have been practicing matrimonial law for 34 years in Northern Virginia, and I told [our mutual client] that I have never seen a more thorough and professionally-drafted settlement document. I feel compelled to simply inform you of my personal belief that you have constructed a marvelous agreement for both parties; and can rest assured that your name has now been put at the very top of the ‘mediator referral list’ for all four attorneys in this law firm.”