What is mediation and how does it work?
Mediation is an informal process in which a neutral third party called a mediator facilitates the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. The process is designed to help disputing parties reach an agreement on all or part of the issues in dispute. Decision-making authority remains with the parties, not the mediator. The mediator assists the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, and exploring settlement alternatives.
What kinds of disputes are appropriate for mediation?
Mediation has been used successfully in a wide range of civil (and occasionally criminal) disputes, whether or not a court case has been filed. It works best in cases in which the parties want to work out a solution. It is particularly helpful in disputes that require creative, as well as legal solutions or in which there will be a continuing relationship between the parties.
How much does mediation cost?
Private mediators generally charge $150 – $250 per hour. Sometimes court staff or volunteer mediators are available to mediate at no cost to the parties.
How long does mediation take?
It can take one hour to many hours – one session to several. It depends on:
- The number and complexity of issues
- Number of parties
- How much you disagree
- How open you are to try to work things out
- Your emotions
- How well you can communicate
Is mediation confidential?
Confidentiality has been well recognized as a necessary means of encouraging full and frank exchanges within mediation sessions. Kentucky’s Model Mediation Rules provide for mediation sessions to be completely confidential except in situations where a mediator, like any adult, has a statutory duty to report allegations of neglect and/or abuse.
Why should I use mediation?
People might choose mediation for many reasons:
- Mediation may be less confrontational than dealing with the issues in open court litigation or in front of a judge
- Some people appreciate the privacy and confidentiality of mediation and seek a respectful and cooperative environment in which to make important decisions
- Mediation can save time and money
- You decide what issues to try to solve in mediation
- The mediator does not force or make agreements, you do. If there is no resolution, you still have the option of going to court.
What about divorce, child support, custody and visitation mediation?
In family law mediation, a mediator is a neutral person who assists the parties in negotiations in an attempt to reach an agreement, which will be finalized in writing, regarding all or some aspects of your case. The issues may include the division between the parties of any properties or other assets; the assignment of responsibility to shared debts; decisions regarding custody, visitation, child support, etc.; any claim for an award of maintenance by either party; the decision as to which party will be awarded life insurance values/policies; the division of retirement, pension, 401k accounts, etc.
Mediation is a specific time scheduled for a meeting between you, your attorney, the other party and their attorney, and a mediator. A mediator cannot force, make, or require you to sign a settlement agreement. The mediator is simply a neutral person who assists parties in negotiations. The mediator cannot disclose any information to the Court, other than to express in written form whether a full or partial agreement was reached.
If you and the other party reach an agreement on some or all issues during the mediation, a written agreement will generally be prepared for your signature at the conclusion of the session. If you sign an agreement at mediation, you will be bound to its terms. The Court will accept the agreement as it is written, and will not allow either party to withdraw his or her consent. Typically, the mediated agreement will be entered by the Judge in your case as a Court Order. Failure to comply with the terms of such an order can warrant contempt sanctions against the party who fails to comply in the form of penalties such as fines, jail time, etc.
You are under no obligation to settle your case during mediation. A mediation session can last several hours. The parties should take appropriate measures to be available for the entire session, including parking, child care and employment arrangements.