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Mediation is the process of helping participants resolve legal issues.
Whether in or out of court, it is always possible to resolve a conflict through mediation and settlement. Because mediation is confidential, the parties are free to discuss all issues and consider any settlement offer, without fear that settlement negotiations will be used as evidence against a party in court. Mediation can be informal, and can give the parties the opportunity to talk to each other about solutions to a common problem. Sometimes, mediation is the first time parties meet. Generally, mediation starts with an introductory opening session with all parties in the same room. During the introductory session the mediator makes opening remarks, and the parties usually have an opportunity to make a general statement of their claim or defense. After introductions the mediation or either party may request to have confidential discussions with the mediator, without the other party being present. Such conversations, called 'caucusing', simply means that the parties to a mediation choose to be separated into groups. During a caucusing session, the mediator will meet separately with each party (and their attorney), and the mediator will present offers to the parties. The parties to a mediation may stay in the same room, caucus, or a combination throughout the mediation session.
All Courts require mediation before a final trial, with some exceptions in the case of abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, or other extreme circumstances. Many Courts require that the parties attend mediation before a temporary orders hearing.
Who decides on the mediator?
Your attorney and spouses attorney will choose the mediator. If they cannot agree, the Court will appoint a mediator. Most mediators require information so they are familiar with the issues; you attorney will complete this, but feel free to fax or e-mail me anything you wish the mediator to know.
Mediator Christophe Fiori is a Supreme Court certified circuit and family mediator. Some participants to a mediation are represented by an attorney, but hiring an attorney to represent you during mediation is not required.
If you are considering mediation to resolve your legal issue, congratulate yourself for taking a positive step towards making it possible to resolve your case amicably and without further legal fees. If you are participating in court ordered mediation, consider that during mediation you have more control over the outcome of your legal case than you do in court.
If you reach an agreement, and if you don't.
If you reach an agreement, the mediator (or your attorney) will help write out the parameters of the agreement you have reached. All parties will sign that Mediated Settlement Agreement that day. Then, one of the attorneys will be responsible for drafting the final version of that agreement for the parties to sign and file with the Court. A signed Mediated Settlement Agreement is IRREVOCABLE. The agreement is binding and cannot be changed after signing. So, please read the agreement carefully before signing because you cannot withdraw the agreement and no provisions can be renegotiated.
In the unfortunate event your case is not settled, you will need to be present at the trial setting. Please understand that I will do everything in my power to resolve your case as quickly as possible. If mediation is unsuccessful, please do not give up on trying to settle your case. I encourage you to keep thinking of ways to resolve your case, short of trial.
Mediation is a voluntary process, and participants can leave at any time, with or without a reason. A mediator cannot force you to settle and will not impose a solution on you, but will help you and your spouse try to find your own solution. Mediation is confidential, with few exceptions.