As a Mediator, I work with the parties to facilitate communications, develop options for settlement, and move toward a resolution of some or all of the issues between them.
The role of the mediator is to be neutral (not representing either party). Often the parties are interested in a process that is not polarizing or adversarial. As a neutral, the mediator works to impart balance to the discussions. There are other non-attorney professionals the mediator can suggest to work with the parties and who may be hired as a neutral to co-mediate (such as a co-parenting counselor to assist with parenting issues, or a financial specialist to assist with financial data collection, tax, valuation, etc.)
The mediator can provide legal information but cannot provide legal advice; the mediator does not dictate a settlement; any settlement is an agreement reached between the parties.
The process emphasizes interest-based negotiations that result in a settlement that maximizes the interests of both parties.
If desired, the mediation can result in a formal settlement agreement between the parties.
The parties are encouraged to hire separate legal counsel during the mediation process. The separate counsel may be used to confer with his/her client during or outside of the mediation sessions, to draft or review a written settlement agreement and/or to file any court matter (including incorporation of any settlement agreement reached).
Mediation can enable the parties to do a lot of their work directly while minimizing the time/expense of their attorneys. The use of neutrals can help the parties to understand each party’s perspective and work on an interest-based settlement that may be agreeable to both parties. Using the attorneys in a consulting capacity helps to minimize the adversarial nature of negotiations while still enabling the parties to get the legal advice and be protected legally.