Mediation is an informal process, conducted in a neutral and private setting with two trained mediators. The goal of mediation is to let people speak for themselves and work together to find a lasting solution to their conflict.
The mediators will:
- Listen as you explain the issues of the conflict, and keep others from interrupting
- Ask questions to help you and the other person clarify and understand the issues
- Guide you through a process to develop solutions
- If desired, assist you in preparing a written agreement that works for everyone involved.
The mediator will not takes sides, assess blame, or tell you what to do. The mediator will not force you to make a decision. Mediation is voluntary. Either participant can end the mediation process at any time; no one can be forced
to agree to anything.
If a settlement is reached, the parties have the option to decide whether to put their agreement in writing, and whether the agreement will be confidential or enforceable in court. If a written agreement is produced, every
participant will receive a copy.
The stages of mediation
Mediation usually has five stages. Here is what you can expect at each stage:
Stage 1 – Opening Statements
The mediators make opening statements that describe the mediation process, confidentiality, and mediation guidelines.
You will be asked to sign a confidentiality acknowledgment, which explains the California state law protecting the confidential content of the mediation session.
Click here to download the LADRS mediation confidentiality acknowledgment (PDF).
When it is your turn to make your initial opening remarks, give a brief statement about the problems that brought you to mediation.
Stage 2 – Identification of Issues
Be ready to state the issues that you want to work on in mediation. Prioritize these issues from most important to least important to you. Gather and bring to mediation any printed information you think might be useful in helping
others understand your perspective or to persuade the other party.
Stage 3 – Exchange, Evaluate, and Discuss Proposals
Think through several solutions that you will want to propose to the other party. It’s helpful to do this thinking prior to the mediation so you can make the best use of the limited time of the mediation. This is especially true if there is
research you need to do beforehand on the costs of various resolution options.
Stage 4 – Decision
Can you make an agreement? Is it in your best interest when you compare it to your other options? If the answer is “Yes” by both parties, the mediators will help write up the agreement in a manner that is easy to understand. If the
answer is “No,” then the mediation ends without an agreement. Your next steps can be to do nothing and hope the dispute goes away, continue negotiating without the help of a mediator, or move on to some other options.
Stage 5 – Close
Once the parties have mediated and made a decision (with or without reaching an agreement), the case is closed.