Mediation has many forms and offerings for those facing family law disputes. Mediators strive to help the parties identify their needs and interests and bring these to the negotiation table. This helps each party to more fully understand and appreciate both their own and the other person’s positions, and can result in creative agreements and a win-win outcome.
Mediation and Collaborative Law. Mediation can be beneficial in the collaborative process, if the parties have reached a stalemate in their negotiations and want an objective third party to help them reflect with a fresh perspective. Mediators are trained to approach the negotiations from an interest-based point of view, which can allow freedom for more creative thinking and outside-the-box resolutions than a court can usually provide.
Basic Mediation. In its most basic form, mediation consists of a neutral person (the mediator) meeting with the parties to address their issues and help them to negotiate and reach agreement. These meetings are generally face-to-face with all three persons in the same room, although the mediator may meet separately with each person as needed.
Mediation with Attorneys Present. Another form of mediation involves parties and their attorneys working with the mediator to negotiate their agreement. These meetings are generally face-to-face, with all five persons in the room.
Settlement Conference. In the settlement conference model, each party and their attorney are in a separate room, while the mediator goes back and forth between the rooms negotiating a settlement. In an effort to negotiate a settlement, the mediator may offer an opinion to each party as to how the court may rule regarding that party’s position. This is the form often used in a traditional litigation process.
Billie L. Grissom received mediation training at the University of Washington School of Law Professional Mediation Skills Training program.