How does mediation work?
Mediation takes place in an informal setting. At UDR, you will sit at a table with the mediator and the other party in the dispute. The mediator will begin by summarizing the basics of mediation; this is a time when you can ask questions about the process before you begin talking about the specific issues at hand. The mediator acts as an impartial, third party to the dispute and does not take sides or tell the parties how to resolve the dispute. Rather, the parties have control over any decisions made during mediation. The mediator will guide the process and help you and the other party communicate about the issues.
What if I just can't sit in the same room with the other party?
Parties typically begin a mediation together in the same room. The mediator will begin by explaining the process and gather information about the issues at hand. Sometimes parties meet separately with the mediator rather than together in the same room. These separate meetings are called caucus sessions. Although caucus is not required in mediation, some parties find it helpful. Anyone may suggest caucus: the mediator or either party. If you and the other party are unable to remain in the same room together, caucus may be an option to consider. When parties remain in caucus throughout mediation, then the mediator shuttles between the parties. Shuttle mediation may take longer, but it is an available option if you cannot sit together in the same room.
How should I prepare for mediation?
It may be helpful to think about your goals and what you would like to achieve as a result of mediation. You might also think about the issues that you and the other party need to address. Depending on the issues at hand, it may be helpful to bring documentation that will help the other party understand how you view the situation. For example, if you are planning to divide martial assets as part of a divorce action, you will want to bring information about the property values, purchase costs, and outstanding debts owed for the property. If you will be addressing a debt claim, you will want to bring documentation about the original agreement and all payments made to date toward the debt.
Should my attorney participate in the mediation?
It is your choice to include your attorney in mediation. It is not required that your attorney be present. You may want to consult with your attorney prior to mediation regarding this question. When attorneys do not participate in mediation, any agreements reached are tentative, pending review with legal counsel. It is often helpful to ask your attorney for guidance about the issues prior to entering mediation. However, if you have legal questions arise during mediation, you and the other party may agree to schedule a second session, allowing you each to gather additional information before moving forward.
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