What Is Mediation and Can It Help Me?

7th January 2022

What Is Mediation and Can It Help Me?

Conflicts are emerging between different people all the time, whether it's from personal concerns, interpersonal concerns, or external problems.

When this happens, it can be difficult (or impossible) for some people to find common ground. 

Are you considering trying mediation before taking your dispute to court? Before you get started, it's important to understand how it works and what you might be able to expect. 

To learn more about the meaning of a mediation agreement and how it works, keep reading below.

What Does Mediation Mean?

Mediation is a type of negotiation process that helps parties figure out what their options are and negotiate a compromise that will solve the issue at hand. An independent person, called the mediator, will help to facilitate the proceedings.

During mediation, both parties have the opportunity to discuss the situation in a confidential, neutral environment. This makes it easier to find an agreement that works and is personalised for everyone involved.

In addition to this, mediation costs less overall because it avoids litigation. It takes much less time, and you don't have to worry about the judge passing a ruling that you don't agree with overall.

What Cases Can Be Taken to Mediation?

Not all cases are appropriate for mediation, but any case can be referred to mediation proceedings. Commonly, you'll find mediation performed for specific areas or topics, such as divorce mediation, family law mediation, or will mediation. 

Some factors that you may want to consider before deciding to choose mediation are:

If you're not sure about whether or not mediation is the right step, it's a good idea to talk about it with your lawyer. They will be able to inform you about mediation confidentiality, the likely outcomes of mediation, and much more.

How Long Does Mediation Take?

A single mediation session is usually going to last at the very least a couple of hours, but it depends on the parties' needs and the time that they have available.

The entire mediation process usually takes just one session, but that also depends on the situation. In some cases, more than one session is needed to get through the entire process and reach a mutual agreement.

What Are the Stages of Mediation?

The entire mediation process has seven stages. While the first four stages and the final two stages are joint sessions, the fifth stage is a private meeting between each party and the nationally accredited mediator. The first four stages are also typically done in that order with the other stages, excluding the final one, being optional.

Stage One

This is the preparatory meeting where the mediator provides an opening statement. During this first stage, everyone involved gets the opportunity to hear more from the mediator about what the process will look like, what the guidelines or rules are, and what the mediator's role is in the process.

The mediator will also talk about how each party can work together in a noncombative way.

Stage Two

During this stage, each party gets to provide a prepared statement regarding their own view of the dispute. These statements are summarised to the mediator so that the mediator can better understand the dispute.

Stage Three

This stage is about listing the issues that are involved in the dispute and creating a foundation to begin negotiations. These topics are to be expressed in neutral terms and should allow both parties to feel comfortable with the final list.

Stage Four

In the fourth stage, parties are asked to focus on a single topic from the previous stage to discuss. The mediator will work with both parties to help them communicate with each other effectively.

Stage Five

This is the stage mentioned earlier in which each party will separately meet individually with the mediator to discuss their opinions and wishes. During this stage, the parties can also provide private information to the mediator if they desire to do so.

Stage Six

The negotiations will begin at this stage. The focus will be on problem-solving and finding solutions that will work for everyone involved.

Stage Seven

The parties will meet with each other and the mediator for this final session to discuss potential resolutions. The mediator works with the parties to facilitate final negotiations and create a mediation agreement, which both parties will sign.

Is a Signed Mediation Agreement Binding?

A typical mediation agreement is not actually legally binding.

However, a party can decide to make it legally binding by including such a statement within the agreement itself. If this is done, the agreement itself is able to later be used as evidence in a court of law.

Can Mediation Be Appealed?

Because mediation agreements are designed to showcase a settlement between two parties, and they are not legally binding outright, it generally cannot be appealed. 

At the end of the process, mediation can settle a dispute in full, in part, or not at all. During the final stage of mediation, if both parties are unable to come to an agreement, they can choose to ask the mediator to notify the judge of the outcome and prepare for trial.

For this reason, if both parties aren't satisfied with the mediation process, they can choose not to complete it rather than try to file an appeal later.

How Much Does Mediation Cost?

The cost of mediation is going to depend on several factors, including who the mediator is, if parties have obtained lawyers, and the nature of the dispute.

The mediation fee is generally paid for by the person that applied for the mediation unless otherwise ordered. Before you begin mediation, it is important to bring up the cost of the sessions and final agreement with your mediator and/or lawyer so that you know the final cost.

Settle Your Dispute With Mediation

Remember that mediation is not right for everyone, but it can be a useful way to reach an agreement with less stress and less cost.

Working with an experienced mediator, such as Nik Koolik, will make the process much easier.

Are you interested in mediation? If so, be sure to contact us today to learn more about how we can guide you through the mediation proceedings. 

Please note the contents of this post is information only and not legal advice. 
If you require legal advice it is best to contact one of our lawyers who can review your particular circumstances and then provide tailored advice according to your needs.

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