You are sitting at a large wooden table in some office building that smells like old books, your soon to be ex-spouse is sitting directly across from you and all you can think is why do I have to look at him/her. This is the picture of mediation created by TV and film, but is it really like that?
Mediation, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the act or process of mediating; especially intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or compromise. From the definition we learn the goals of mediation are to resolve conflict through reconciliation, settlement, or compromise.
In mediation, both sides come together to achieve a goal through the assistance of an independent third party mediator. Your mediator may be an independent third party attorney or an individual who has been trained in conflict resolution.
On the day of mediation, you can expect to arrive to the office of the mediator and be placed in a conference room or office space. Your attorney will be present with you as will the attorney for the other side. The mediator will either have everyone start in the same room, to discuss the goals of the day, and then separate the parties, or everyone will start out in separate rooms. Having you and your soon to be ex-spouse in separate rooms allows for free discussion between you, the mediator, and your attorney.
Once the parties are in separate rooms the mediator will start facilitating the negotiations. Often times, the mediator has already been provided a summary of your case and knows what issues are at hand. However, mediators typically like to start mediation hearing your goals from you. The mediator will then go to the other party and speak with them-going back and forth working down each issue.
The mediator can go back and forth several times, or just a handful. It all depends on the parties. One key thing to remember is it never matters how long the mediator spends in each room.
At the close of mediation, if an agreement has been reached, the mediator will prepare a written agreement for everyone to sign. If mediation was not successful the mediator will inform the Judge or give the parties an option to return for additional mediation.
While you might be sitting at a wooden table in an office that smells of old books, don’t fear mediation. Mediation is a tool available to help you reach your goals and move on to the next chapter in your life. The family law and litigation attorneys at Smith Simmons are prepared to assist you in maximizing the value of your divorce or civil matter. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with one of our qualified attorneys.