Two Primary Ways People Come To Mediation
The most common method by which people end up in a mediator's office is via Court order/referral. Mandatory mediation is a common requirement in family law Courts. The second option is an agreement to mediate. This agreement can be reached in an existing case or a case that has not been filed yet (pre-filing mediation).
Make the Most of Your Mediation Session
Pre-filing Mediation- Your relationship is coming to an end. No one has filed with the Court and you want to resolve things without going to Court. You want to focus on finding solutions which are best for you and your children as opposed to just winning. If these statements ring true for you then pre-filing mediation may be the way to go.
In this process, the parties work with the mediator (usually without lawyers but the lawyers are always welcome) to come up with a list of topics to be addressed. Everyone then addresses each topic with the guidance and direction of the mediator. It is common to have more than one mediation session as "homework" often needs to be done (for example, one party actually filing the case, having the house appraised, talking with an attorney regarding social security benefits, etc.). The goal here is to resolve all the various topics and then present a settlement agreement to the Court for approval.
Can you be in the same room with the other side of your case without a fight erupting? Should you be able to do so but do not think it is possible? Are you able to set aside your differences and focus on the best interest of your children? These questions can help our mediator determine the best type of mediation to ensure success.
Shuttle Mediation- The Most Common
This is by far the most common mediation method. In this method the parties (and their attorneys if represented) are kept in separate rooms. The mediator literally shuttles back and forth between the rooms. This method is often preferred by parties as they feel it gives them a chance to really speak their minds. There is less concern about whether what a party says will derail the mediation. This method also gives the parties a chance to express and work through their emotions without fear of the other side's reaction. This method gives each party (and his/her attorney) a private space in which to work toward solutions and contemplate the impact of those solutions.
With this type of mediation, the parties are almost always in the same room. The process focuses on a sharing of common ground and hearing first-hand about the other party's concerns. This mediation method ensures each party a chance to speak their mind in a structured environment where the other party is listening to them. Solutions are generated by the parties after some disussion. The parties then have a chance to evaluation those solutions before coming to an agreement.