Each case is different, so civil mediation may last for different amounts of time. In some cases, civil mediation may take half a day. Many cases are resolved in a full-day session of civil mediation. However, others may take more than one day. As long as the parties are making progress, civil mediation can continue until the case is resolved in a mutually-satisfactory manner.
At civil mediation, a neutral third-party mediator helps guide the parties in structured negotiations. Using effective communication techniques and dispute resolution skills, the mediator uncovers the interests of the parties, helps them better articulate their positions and finds areas of agreement. If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator drafts this agreement.
The five stages of mediation include:
- Convening mediation – Convening mediation involves getting the parties to agree to mediation to resolve their dispute. They sign an agreement that outlines the mediation process and services the mediator will provide. They then schedule a mediation session.
- Opening – During the opening session, the mediator explains the process of mediation and lays down the ground rules. The parties give an opening statement about their perspective of the case.
- Communication – During this stage of mediation, the parties explain their position and share information with the mediator. The parties may exchange information privately or in front of each other.
- Negotiation – The mediator may take offers and counter offers back to the parties until they reach an agreement.
- Closing – The mediator drafts a contract that memorializes the agreement of the parties.
If all goes well, you will settle your dispute at civil mediation. Therefore, it is important that you are just as prepared for mediation as you would be if your case was going to trial. Be sure that you are familiar with the facts of the case and bring any evidence with you that supports your position.
A civil mediation agreement is typically a binding contract that can be enforced as such. However, the parties may need to take an extra step if there is ongoing litigation and they want the agreement to be made part of an official court order. In this situation, they may present the agreement to the judge to incorporate into the order. The agreement can then be enforced as part of the court order.