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What is Mediation?

Mediation is a negotiation process where two conflicting parties can work together with the help of a mutually-agreeable neutral party to resolve many types of conflict, when the parties have failed to reach a mutually agreeable plan to move ahead acting on their own. Mediation is the process that is often used to free hostages, resolve child custody, resolve long term family conflict, and decrease the explosive nature of personal and business relationships establishing how to resolve the conflict.

Participants – The participants in the mediation process are the two (and occasionally more) parties that are in dispute and the mediator retained to conduct the mediation process. No other persons are present at the mediation process, except with the mutual consent of both the parties in mediation. Should the participants have attorneys, sometimes they are present at the mediation to advise their client of pertinent legal matters.

Advantages – With mediation, the entire process of dispute resolution lies exclusively within the control of the two parties. The mediator remains neutral in the outcome but acts as a facilitator empowering both sides to disclose what they believe is a fair minded approach to problem-solving. Either party is free to cease the negotiation process at any point, choosing to move back to another form for dispute resolution. Within mediation you can be informed about the laws that might relate to your dispute, but you can, in many situations, not be bound by them, and pursue an alternative outcome that meets with both your satisfaction.

Challenges – A possible obstacle for successful mediation can be when one of the parties cannot overcome the tension working with the other party. It is the agenda of the mediator to ensure a safe space for both parties to speak their individual desires. The mediator is to be completely neutral as to the outcome of your conflict, but is not neutral when it comes to facilitating the mediation process. The terms of mediation are laid out at the onset and the job of the mediator is to make certain that they are followed throughout the process, not allowing one person to overpower the other.

Outside advocates and advisers – Some persons retain a lawyer as their personal adviser throughout the mediation process. Many persons using mediation do not retain attorneys as an advocate, since each person ultimately speaks for themselves, aided by the neutral mediator. Attorneys are sometimes jointly retained as an adviser (but not an advocate) to inform both parties about relevant legal matters about their negotiations. When one of both of the parties do not understand complex matters, other advisers in areas such as contracts, taxes, bankruptcy, business valuation, property ownership, equal opportunity, occupational safety, child custody, and professional engineering are sometimes engaged to help inform your mediation process. As with all decisions within the mediation process, any decision to retain or draw information from outside advisers will be mutual. Since the parties are seeking mutual cooperation, either party can request a break to confer with your individual advisers at their own expense or anyone else that they believe can help them act wisely on their part and then return to the active mediation process.

Process –  At your meeting together, the mediator will review the nature of the mediation process with both parties. You will both be given an opportunity to disclose without interruptions, precisely what the nature of your conflict is. The mediator will then ask for further explanation from both of you as to what you see your issues of conflict are and how you would like to resolve the conflict. There is a wide variety of styles of mediation, all of which has some legitimate basis. The mediation model used by StalemateSolutions is collaborative, interest based, and interaction based conflict resolution. It is not the mediator’s role to become an advocate for either of the parties or determine who is right or wrong. That will remain your own responsibility. We believe that only solutions that you both come up with are the ones that will most likely succeed. By asking many neutrally-based questions you can expect to find common issues to be resolved and mutually workable plans designed by both parties. Many excellent mediators are not attorneys.  Some attorneys have an excellent mediation practices. Mediators, even ones who are attorneys, are prohibited by law to give legal advice in a case that they are mediating. All mediators must remain neutral throughout the mediation process. Most of our mediations are held at our conference facilities in Denver. We can also conduct the mediations as other neutral venues as needed.

Conclusion of mediation – A desired outcome from a mediation results in the commitment to prioritize what each party wants and needs, and looks into helping both parties achieve a desired outcome. The mediation process usually concludes with the mediator drafting a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which will be signed by both parties of the dispute. All decisions made as well as the process of mediation is mutually agreeable by both parties.

Cost – The cost for mediation will be far less than employing separate advocates to negotiate with each other and almost always considerably less than going to court, where you have both given up all participation in deciding the outcome. Mediation fees are generally charged by the hour and are typically equally paid by the parties in dispute at each mediation session. A relatively simple mediation can be concluded in two or three hours. More complex ones will take longer, sometimes in multiple sessions, if there are a large number of disputes.

Starting the process – If you and the party with whom you have conflict both seek to employ the process of mediation to resolve your conflict, you need to fill out the contact form and a mediator will contact you to set up an appointment. There is usually a separate brief phone conversation with both parties to answer their basic questions about the process and schedule a mediation appointment. Identify only the area of dispute to be mediated. You will not discuss your individual perspective on the conflict at this point. That discussion will be within the mediation meeting together with both parties. You would be well-advised to review all the information on this website before contacting the mediator to make your conversation most productive.

 

Copyright 2013 by Larry D. Ellis, Denver CO