What are the stages of mediation?
- Convening The Mediation
- Opening Session
The first stage is the opening or beginning of the mediation. At this point, the mediator will get the parties together and make sure everyone is present. A party is not required to hire an attorney to participate in a mediation. In fact, it is not needed. There are few cases, such as, if the other party has an attorney. Also, if the mediation is a part of litigation. For example, in a civil suit where someone has filed suit against you, and the judge orders mediation, then it is better to hire an attorney to handle the entire process. If it is a small claim (justice of peace court), it may not be necessary.
In the second stage, the mediator will introduce himself or herself. As the facilitator, he will let you know what to expect and confirm the reason why you are in mediation. There are some code of ethics that prevents a mediator from engaging in a mediation where there is conflict of interest. Moreover, you will be informed the rules of mediation, and you are expected to act in good faith.
Communication is key. It is an essential part to a successful mediation.
Although you are not required to reach a settlement, you must act in good faith. In this third stage, it is important to let the mediator know the minimum condition or terms you will agree to. State the reason for the figures or conditions. For example, you may not care about the cars in a divorce settlement; however, keeping the house may be a big deal for you because of your children. If you want 50-50 in property division, then tell the mediator.
Communication leads to the fourth stage – negotiation. As stated above, be open minded. This is the crux of good faith. Generally, good faith can be defined as honesty – “the concept of being sincere in one’s business dealings and without a desire to defraud, deceive, take unfair advantage, or act maliciously in any way towards another person.” If the parties have been divided into separate rooms (called caucus), the mediator will go back and forth to discuss the issues. He will also let you known what the other parties’ terms are and attempt to reach a middle point.
The last stage is Closure. If the parties reach a final agreement, it will be noted and written down. The mediator will put all the terms of the agreement in a Mediation Settlement Agreement. If there is a suit already pending, the MSA must be signed by the judge with all terms present. Any term not noted down at the conclusion of the mediation will not be recognized as part of the contract.
Contact us to mediate your case, whether it is half a day or full day.