Q: Do both/all parties have to participate?
A: Because mediation is a collaborative process, it is necessary for both parties to participate in some way. Parties need not be friendly toward one another, but must be willing to work together to find solutions to the issue(s). At times, “shuttle mediation,” where the mediator meets with the parties separately may be employed. In circumstances when only one party is motivated to change a situation, conflict resolution coaching is an option.
Q: Do I need an attorney?
A: Mediation and conflict resolution services are not a substitute for legal counsel, and mediators can not advocate for either party. Mediation clients have choices relative to the participation of legal counsel and any other knowledgeable experts. If the parties are seeking a legally binding agreement between them, each is strongly encouraged to identify an attorney to provide legal services and consultation.
Having an independent attorney can be empowering, providing expertise and experience about legal assumptions. Individual representation by competent counsel offers assurance that all legal considerations are explored and given appropriate consideration.
Q: Are agreements reached in mediation legally binding?
A: Mediated agreements can be put in writing as an informal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). When mediated agreements are incorporated into a settlement contract or divorce decree, for example, the terms become binding.
Q: How long does it take to resolve a dispute?
A: That depends upon the issues and the participants. Separation and Divorce cases may require one to six sessions, or more, depending upon the complexity of the situation.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Each circumstance is unique. Fees are discussed and agreed upon at the initial meeting.
“We are never asked to sacrifice anything that could bring us peace.”