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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is a way for two people, who have been unable to work out their own problems (for any number of reasons), to be supported to resolve their issues on their own, without handing the decision to a court or other arbitrator. To do this, they meet with a neutral person who helps the parties respect and understand each other, while they work through a solution that they can both agree is fair, or at least acceptable, to each other.

The role of the mediator is to:

1. take the lead in organizing and simplifying the problems to be dealt with;

2. help each person identify his or her real needs behind the problem and make sure each understands the others point of view;

3. listen to and respect the feeling behind the problem and the impasse it has created;

4. act as a go-between for honest and effective communication between the parties in a safe setting;

5. provide the knowledge and skill needed to expand the resources available to the participants to understand various viewpoints of what might be fair and to explore settlement options;

6. provide a reality check for unrealistic expectations or problems that have not been foreseen.

Q. What are the advantages of Mediation?

1. Allows each person to tell the other his or her own viewpoint and feelings in a place where they will be heard and respected. This will be accomplished even if they fail to reach a final agreement on some       matter.

2. Allows the parties to work out their own agreement tailored to their own unique personal and family needs and preferences.

3. Creates an agreement that promises a high rate of compliance by all parties. Details of how the agreement will be carried out can be quickly worded out in fine detail.

4. A mediated agreement is nearly always much faster and cheaper than preparing for and attending on a judge or on arbitration.

5. Mediation usually restores the trust needed to maintain a working relationship in the future.

6. Participation in mediation often leads to personal growth. Those involved gain personal confidence and skills that serve them well in future.

Q. What Kind of disputes should be taken to a mediator?

A.   Any and all disputes are better resolved through communication in a co operative setting, rather than by confrontation. A trained mediator will adjust the procedures and setting required, depending on whether the conflict involves personal relationships, or commercial or industrial relationships.

Here are some examples of situations where mediation is frequently, and successfully used:

  • separation and divorce
  • neighbour disputes
  • employer / employee relations
  • commercial disputes (with a customer or between businesses)
  • disputes with banks, government offices or other institutions.

Just ask yourself: Do I need this resolved quickly? or Do I want to have at least a working relationship with the other party in future?

Q. Why should I compromise my legal rights by trying to settle?

A.   When we resort to legal rights and compromise, we avoid a real solution. Legal rights decide the terms of division and therefore divides people. Mediation discovers terms of renewal and creates the opportunity for a new or better relationship. Legal rights solve a conflict by telling each to go your own way, to take as much as you can with you and to compromise your demands where necessary. Mediation solves a problem by each party trying to understand and accommodate the needs of the other. It is amazing how often we discover a common interest of benefit, to both, so that all that is needed is co-operation, not compromise.

Q. Why does it take so long to get a divorce settled?

A. I see at least two basic problems:

1.   When each person goes to a lawyer, they then speak to each other through their lawyers, which is a three-step process back and forth. This not only slows communication to a snail's pace but often creates misunderstandings. To prevent this, it is important that the lawyers and clients all meet together in order to directly exchange their needs and wishes, and the extent to which they are willing to accommodate each other.

2.   Problems from separation are usually a mix of emotional pain and financial consequences; dealing with one often frustrates settlement of the other. Although lawyers are not qualified to treat emotional pain, those who are committed to some form of mediation are at least prepared to acknowledge that emotions are part of the problem, and where necessary, to listen to it and take it into account.