For your convenience and to make your time at mediation more efficient, it is suggested that prior to your first session you download and print the Mediation and Confidentiality agreements listed below.
To ensure the best possible environment for open and constructive communication, certain procedural guidelines are enforced by the mediator:
- > Equal opportunities to speak
- > One speaker at a time
- > No interrupting
- > Respectful listening
- > Rules of confidentiality
- > No personal attacks
- > No profanity
- > No disrespectful gestures
- > Can request a break at any time
- > Voluntary engagement in process
- > Parties may withdraw at any time
- > Parties responsible for outcome
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is mediation?
- Why choose mediation?
- How much will mediation cost?
- How long will mediation take?
- How long are the sessions?
- Do I have to take part in mediation?
- What information must I disclose to my spouse and to the mediator?
- What is discussed during mediation?
- Is mediation confidential?
- What if the person I am in conflict with does not want to do mediation?
- Is an agreement reached through mediation binding?
- How do we start mediation?
- What if I’m not currently speaking with the other party in the dispute?
- How does the free consultation work?
- What do I need to bring for the first meeting?
- I don’t live in your area, can you still help me?
- What if we start the process and then I want to back out?
- What if I think the other party is being dishonest or withholding information during mediation?
- Will you take sides/how do I know you won’t take the other party’s side?
Every dispute is different and therefore the time it takes before the parties reach agreement can vary greatly. That being said, other than divorce many disputes can be resolved within a 2- to 3-hour session. Because divorce can require resolution on many-layered issues such as custody, support, property and assets, it could require a minimum of 3 to 4 sessions at 2 to 3 hours for each session.
How long are the sessions?
Depending on the needs of the parties in dispute and available time, mediation sessions can be scheduled to last from 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, and in some cases 3 hours.
How much will mediation cost?
Mediation costs are far less than what litigation costs tend to be. Your mediation costs will be based on an hourly fee. There are no charges for the time spent with parties on the telephone and reading or answering emails, unless it is a virtual mediation that is conducted by telephone and emails. Mediation costs are split between the parties and are paid at each session. Please see the Services section for hourly fees.
What information must I disclose to my spouse and to the mediator?
All financial information must be disclosed as part of the mediation. To reach mutually agreed upon resolutions that will be durable and ultimately provide both parties closure, all information should be disclosed. The more honest each party is the better. Should information be withheld during the mediation process, any agreement reached may not be valid.
What is discussed during mediation?
It depends on the type of dispute at hand. In typical divorce mediation, the following issues must be addressed in order to generate an agreement that may be submitted as part of your Marriage Settlement Agreement and filed with the court:
- - Children: Parenting responsibilities and time; living arrangements; legal and physical custody; insurance, education, support and many other issues
- - Spousal Support: Whether there will be spousal support, in what amount and for how long
- - Assets and Debts: How these will be apportioned
- - Property: Marital home, cars, other personal property
- - Tax Issues
- - Insurance and Medical Expenses
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process whereby a neutral third party helps guide people with disputes to work through their conflict or disagreement, with a goal to resolve the issues in a mutually agreeable way.
Do I have to take part in mediation?
No. Mediation is completely voluntary; any one of the parties, including the mediator, can stop mediation at any time.
Is mediation confidential?
Yes, very. The mediator and participants are bound by California Evidence Code 1119(c) to keep confidential what is discussed in mediation.
What if the person I am in conflict with does not want to do mediation?
Depending on the circumstances we will attempt to speak with them and explain what mediation is and how it works; however, if they truly do not want to participate we will not be able to proceed. Alternatively, we could attempt to conduct a virtual mediated process whereby we work with the parties via phone and Internet in an attempt to seek resolution on issues of dispute.
Why Choose Mediation?
Mediation provides both sides with the opportunity to address their issues and truly get their needs met as much as possible given the difficult circumstances. The benefits include: · Reduced Stress Levels – mediation helps disputing parties minimize the stress from prolonged conflict· · Time – depending on the conflict many issues can be resolved with a 2- to 3-hour session. In the case of divorce, mediation can vary considerably and take between a couple of weeks to 3 months or more. · Confidentiality – mediation allows you to openly discuss your issues, feelings and fears without the threat that what you disclose can be revealed or used against you. · Control – with mediation, the parties are in control over both the outcome and the process and have the choice to discontinue at any time. · Money – mediation typically costs much less than a litigation (in many cases 75% less).
How do we start mediation?
Mediation at MTSS starts with an initial consultation in which the mediation process will be explained, answers will be provided to any questions the parties may have, and assistance will be provided in helping the parties decide whether mediation is right for the situation. This initial consultation is free and can take place at one of our offices or over the phone.
How does the free consultation work?
The consultation is generally done with both parties present so that each person gets the same information and has the ability to ask questions. It can take place over the phone or in one of our offices.
Is an agreement reached through mediation binding?
Mediation is not binding until both parties mutually agree upon the resolutions and sign an agreement which is then filed with the county court clerk. Once this is done the agreement is entered as an official record and becomes a binding contract.
What if I’m not currently speaking with the other party in the dispute?
Because a key premise behind mediation is to have the parties reach a mutually agreeable resolution, the goal is to encourage dialogue. However, mediation does not always start out with both parties ready to engage in any process with the other, regardless of what it is.
Knowing that this may be the case, attempts can be made to contact the other party with the purpose of explaining the process, intent and benefits of mediation. If needed the mediation can begin with individual sessions until such time as both parties are comfortable moving forward with joint sessions.
What do I need to bring for the first meeting?
At the first session the process and ground rules will be discussed along with reiteration of confidentiality. Signing of a mediation engagement agreement and a confidentiality agreement will be required. It will help if the parties will have downloaded, printed and read these documents before arriving. This will allow us to spend as much time as possible on the issues at hand. If you have children, bring any information regarding their schedules. Other helpful information for the first session includes financial information detailing assets, liabilities and a monthly budget.
I don’t live in your area, can you still help me?
Yes, depending on the nature of your dispute, mediation may take place over the phone and through email. Telephone mediation works best with small claims disputes.
What if we start the process and then I want to back out?
Mediation is voluntary for all participants. Any party is free to back out of mediation at any time. This choice is discouraged so that the full process is allowed to proceed. Many times sessions can become uncomfortable as sensitive issues are discussed, but this discomfort can lead to a turning point just when it may seem impossible to move forward.
What if I think the other party is being dishonest or withholding information during mediation?
Because honesty is integral to the process it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to reach agreement on issues if any party believes the other side is not being honest. If one party feels this way, he/she should request a private sidebar with the mediator to disclose this feeling.
Will you take sides/how do I know you won’t take the other party’s side?
The only goal a mediator should have is to help guide both parties to reach an agreement they are both happy with. Taking sides would be counter to that goal.