The Six Stages Of Mediation
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution which helps individuals come to a timely agreement outside of the courtroom. While mediation is less formal than a traditional court case, it still involves several distinct stages designed to achieve positive results. At Tournour Law in East Brunswick, we provide mediation services for parties involved in several types of family law cases, such as divorce.
Our attorney, Frank Tournour, is passionate about helping families reach an amicable solution without the stress and potentially high costs of a court case. During the mediation process, the mediator helps both parties evaluate their goals and find a mutually satisfactory solution. A typical family law mediation has six stages.
Step One: Getting Started
To start the first session, the mediator will make an opening statement and set the tone of the session. The mediator will also introduce everyone and explain the goals and rules of the mediation. At Tournour Law, we begin our mediation sessions by encouraging everyone involved to work cooperatively toward a fair and beneficial settlement.
Step Two: Opening Statements By The Parties
After the mediator establishes the rules and goals of the session, each party will have the opportunity to make an opening statement. During this statement, you can explain, in your own words, what you feel the dispute is about and how you have been affected by it. We also encourage you to share some general ideas that you have for resolving the dispute. While one individual is speaking, the other is not allowed to interrupt.
Step Three: Discussion
Once each party has a chance to describe the dispute from their point of view, the mediator will open the floor and begin a discussion about what was said in the opening statements. The focus is on asking open-ended questions that encourage a frank dialogue about what issues need to be addressed. In a family law case, these issues may include:
- Property division
- Visitation schedules
- Child support
The goal of the discussion is to begin developing solutions for the issues and work toward a resolution.
Step Four: Private Meetings
Known as a private caucus, this step is an opportunity to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your position privately with the mediator. You can also develop new ideas for the settlement. Depending on your needs, your mediator may meet with each party only once or several times.
Step Five: Negotiation
After the private meetings, the mediator will bring the parties back together to negotiate directly. During this stage, you and the other party will work to refine a final agreement that meets your needs.
Step Six: Closure
There are two possible endings to a mediation session. If an agreement is reached, the final stage of the process is to put the main provisions in writing. Your mediator may recommend having the agreement reviewed by your personal lawyer. In most cases, the mediated agreement will need to be approved by a judge to become official.
Mediation offers many benefits over traditional litigation, especially for family law disputes.
If no agreement is reached, the mediator will review the progress and advise you of your options. Depending on the situation, they may recommend meeting again for another mediation session, taking the dispute to arbitration or going to court.