FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where a neutral third party acts as an intermediary to assist parties to a dispute reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Mediation is solutions-based and goal-oriented. It is less expensive and less time-consuming than litigation. Mediation is a voluntary, non-binding, and confidential process. The Mediator is an independent third party; s/he does not take sides and does not act as a judge. The Mediator facilitates a discussion between the parties to identify the issues, generate and evaluate potential solutions, and determine a resolution that is agreeable to all parties. The parties are in full control of the resolution. If an agreement cannot be reached in mediation, the parties have not forfeited any of their legal rights and can still pursue their dispute in court.
Mediation can be used to resolve almost any type of dispute. The only requirement is that the parties are willing to participate in discussions with the goal of resolving the dispute. Because mediation is non-adversarial, it is particularly valuable when there is an on-going relationship between the parties, e.g., co-parents, client/vendor, and employer/employee. In general, there are no formal rules to mediation. Accordingly, the parties are encouraged to develop creative and thorough resolutions that not only focus on the present, but address the future as well.
What are the benefits of mediation?
• Quicker and More Efficient than Going to Court
• Cost Effective
• Results in Fair and Satisfying Resolutions
• Voluntary and Non-Binding
• Amicable and Dignified
• Preserves Current Relationships
• More Flexible and Less Formal than Court
• Addresses the Present and Future
• Alleviates the Burden from the Legal System
Is mediation right for me?
Mediation is a non-adversarial, quicker, and less expensive alternative to going to court to settle a dispute. It is a versatile process that can be used to resolve almost any issue. Mediation is commonly used to settle disputes that arise in business (e.g., contract disputes, workers’ compensation, workplace disputes), family matters (e.g., divorce, child custody, and probate), and interpersonal disputes (e.g., personal injury, relationships, and pre-marital issues).
To determine whether mediation is the right approach for you, ask yourself the following questions:
Am I motivated to resolve the dispute?
Do I want to settle the dispute quickly and efficiently?
Do I want to spend less money on legal representation?
Do I want to determine the outcome?
Do I need to have a continued relationship with the other party?
Do I want to reserve my rights to sue in court?
Do I want to settle the dispute in a dignified manner?
Do I want the details of the dispute to remain confidential?
Do I think that remedies at law are inadequate to address my issues?
Do I want to create a lasting solution that prevents conflict from arising in the future?
If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of the above questions, mediation may be the right process for you. To assess whether your dispute is appropriate for mediation, contact us at 910.362.0366 or Info@AccordMediationGroup.com for a free consultation.
Do I need an attorney?
You do not need an attorney to participate in mediation. If you have an attorney already involved in your case, however, s/he is welcome to attend the mediation. Please be advised that mediation is not a substitute for obtaining independent legal advice. Mediators cannot provide legal advice. Should you have any legal questions, please consult an independent attorney.
How much does mediation cost?
Mediation is charged on an hourly basis at the current rates. In addition to hourly fees, there is a one-time administrative fee. All fees are presumed to be equally shared between the parties. The parties may, however, choose a different payment arrangement.
How long does mediation take?
Mediations are generally held in 2-hour sessions. The number of sessions required depends on the number and complexity of the issues involved. Most court-mandated mediations are completed the same day.
What is a typical mediation session like?
In a typical initial mediation session, the mediator will meet with all parties (and their respective attorneys, if applicable). The mediator will explain his/her role and the process of the mediation. The mediator then will ask one of the parties to briefly describe the situation. Next, the mediator will turn to the other party and ask him/her to describe the situation from his/her perspective. The mediator will then begin the fact-finding portion of the mediation.
At some point during the mediation, the mediator will ask to meet with each party separately. During this time, the mediator will talk to the parties individually to gather further information. In some cases, the mediator will ask the parties to reconvene in one room. In other cases, the parties will continue to meet in separate rooms while the mediator moves between the rooms.
The mediator will continue to direct the discussion between the parties until all of the issues are identified and all of the facts are on the table. At that point, the mediator will assist the parties to explore the options. After all options are presented, the mediator will facilitate the evaluation of the options until a resolution is determined by the parties.
After the parties have mutually agreed upon a resolution, the mediator will draft a document memorializing the resolution. This document is referred to as a ‘Memorandum of Agreement Reached in Mediation.’ The memorandum is not signed by the parties and is not binding. In court-mandated mediation, however, the written agreement is prepared by the mediator along with the parties’ respective counsel. The written agreement is then executed by the parties and their counsel.
What do I need to bring to mediation?
You should bring to mediation all relevant documentation and other information that would be helpful in describing your dispute to the mediator and the other party. Documentation may include, without limitation, income tax returns, bills, appraisals, banking and financial statements, previous agreements or contracts, pictures, and maps.
What if we don’t reach an agreement in mediation?
Mediation is an effective process. Most mediations result in successful resolutions. In the unlikely event your dispute is unable to be resolved in mediation, you have not forfeited any legal rights. That is, if you do not reach a mutually acceptable agreement, you can proceed with any other legal processes or remedies, including litigation or arbitration.
Although, in general, mediation is a voluntary process, courts and other commissions often require parties to mediate their dispute before going to trial. Parties to a court-mandated mediation are not required to come to an agreement, but they are expected to participate in good faith with the goal of resolving the dispute.
Is mediation binding? Is the written agreement provided by the mediator enforceable?
Mediations are non-binding meaning that you cannot compel a party to comply with the agreement reached in mediation. Because both parties voluntarily submit to mediation, however, compliance is not often a problem. Further, parties are more likely to comply with resolutions in which they played a part.
Most mediations are memorialized in writing. Although the written ‘Memorandum of Agreement Reached in Mediation’ is not enforceable, most parties choose to have their respective attorneys review the agreement and draft it into a legally enforceable contract.
In court-mandated mediation, any agreement reached in mediation is signed by the parties and their respective counsel, and a consent judgment or voluntary dismissal is filed with the court.
What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?
In mediation, the mediator facilitates a discussion between the parties and assists the parties to come to their own resolution of the dispute. In arbitration, the arbitrator acts as a judge, hears the evidence, and determines the outcome.
How do I get started?
The first thing you should do is contact us at (910) 362-0366 for a free phone consultation. After speaking with a mediator about your dispute, if you determine that you would like to participate in mediation, you should contact the other party to the dispute and inquire whether s/he is interested in mediation. In the alternative, the mediator can contact the other party. If both parties are agreeable to mediation, the mediator will schedule the mediation for a mutually convenient time.