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What to Expect in Mediation

The idea of participating in mediation can feel daunting, especially if you are in an emotionally distressing, high-conflict situation. To help parties create a mutually beneficial path forward, this post offers an overview of the mediation process.

There is a dirt road going up a mountain. One side of the road has golden tall grass, the other side has green grass and red and purple flowers.
What to expect in mediation, creating a new path forward.

  • Agreement to mediate: I’ll start with collecting each party’s signed agreement to mediate if I haven’t received it yet.

  • Introduction and opening remarks: I will introduce myself, explain my role as mediator, and cover the confidentiality and ground rules of mediation. Next, I will clarify the process and agenda.

  • Ground rules: Among the ground rules is that parties refrain from judgemental and critical statements and focus on expressing their needs and interests. Hostility, blaming, verbal attacks, repeated interruptions, bickering, and other disruptive behavior are counterproductive and will not be tolerated during mediation.

  • Individual perspectives: Each party will have the opportunity to share what brought them to mediation, their individual mediation goals, and their concerns.

  • Productive negotiation: After hearing from both parties, we will prioritize issues and work toward future-focused problem-solving and negotiation. This requires each side to do the following.

    • Set a mutually acceptable agreement as a goal.

    • Avoid a contest of wills.

    • Focus on the future and avoid rehashing the past.

    • Focus on interests and not on principled positions.

    • Share pertinent information.

    • Remain patient and be open to joint gain.

    • Identify common ground. Source: Basic Mediation, J. Poole & C. Barker

  • Caucus: During mediation, I may separate the parties into separate physical or virtual rooms (in online mediation) for a caucus. This allows us to talk one on one and for me to gain greater insight into an individual’s perspective. I will then move back and forth between the two caucus “rooms.”

  • Completion: Agreeing is challenging and requires hard work on all sides. This is the congratulations, you did it phase!

    • In many cases, I will prepare and work with you to finalize a memorandum of agreement (MOA). In some cases, these are legally binding settlements filed with the courts.

    • It is advised to have your legal counsel review your MOA to be sure it will stand up in court.

    • While an MOA is ideal, there are times when parties are unable to meet in the middle. Again, while mediation may be court-mandated, an agreement is voluntary and not required.

    • In the case of court-ordered mediation, I will file the agreement with the courts.

I hope this overview is helpful in giving you insight into what is involved in a mediation session.

Read about how to prepare for a mediation session with LKB Mediation here.

To schedule your mediation with LKB Mediation, contact us.

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