Mediation is a confidential, informal alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process in which a neutral third person- the Mediator- helps opposing parties talk to each other and reach individually-tailored solutions. Mediation allows the parties to expand the discussion beyond disputed legal issues and to address the feelings, needs, and values underlying the conflicts. Mediation often results in a written agreement that can be incorporated into an Order or a Judgment of Divorce.
Mediators do not decide who was right or wrong in the past or impose solutions. They do not evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of either party's case, assess the likely court outcome, or offer legal advice. Instead, Mediators help parties focus on their restructured future and empower the parties to make their own decisions that meet their unique needs and interests.
Research shows that Mediation settles a large percentage of cases otherwise headed for court, speeds settlement, saves money, and increases compliance, and satisfaction, with agreements. Mediation leads to improved relationships between parents and their children, as well as between divorced parents, even years after the settlement. Finally, Mediation leaves parties no worse off: parties are still free to go to trial if they cannot settle.
Both parties have the opportunity to raise issues of concern and to explain the facts of the dispute as each person sees them. The Mediator then asks clarifying questions. Once the Mediator and parties have identified the issues for discussion the Mediator helps the parties work to explore and choose options that meet the parties' needs.