How Does The Mediation Process Work?


by Jessica A. Stepp

February 2003

Jessica A. Stepp There are 6 steps to a formal mediation; 1) introductory remarks, 2) statement of the problem by the parties, 3) information gathering time, 4) identification of the problems, 5) bargaining and generating options, and 6) reaching an agreement.

Introductory Remarks

The mediator will wait until both parties are present and then make introductions. The physical setting will be controlled so that no party feels threatened. Most mediators will ask that if children are present, they wait outside. The mediator will then give an opening statement. This outlines the role of the participants and demonstrates the mediator’s neutrality. Some mediators will make comments about what they see as the issue and confirm the case data if briefs have been pre-submitted. Next, the mediator will define protocol and set the time frame for the process. There will be a review of the mediation guidelines and the mediator will briefly recap what it is that he has heard as the issues.

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The opening statement during the introductory remarks will set out the ground rules for the mediation. These ground rules are what help the mediation move along smoothly. The mediator will usually ask that if attorneys are present, they can confer, but the clients should speak for themselves. Parties should not interrupt each other; the mediator will give each party the opportunity to fully share their side of the story.

Statement of the Problem by the Parties

After the opening statement, the mediator will give each side the opportunity to tell their story uninterrupted. Most often, the person who requested the mediation session will go first. The statement is not necessarily a recital of the facts, but it is to give the parties an opportunity to frame issues in their own mind, and to give the mediator more information on the emotional state of each party. If there are lawyers present who make the initial statement, the mediator will then ask the client to also make a statement. The rationale behind the statement of the problem is not a search for the truth; it is just a way to help solve the problem.

Information Gathering

The mediator will ask the parties open-ended questions to get to the emotional undercurrents. The mediator may repeat back key ideas to the parties, and will summarize often. This helps the mediator build rapport between the parties, especially when a facilitative style is used.

Problem Identification

This might also be part of other segments. The mediator tries to find common goals between the parties. The mediator will figure out which issues are going to be able to settle or those that will settle first.

Bargaining and Generating Options / Reaching an Agreement

Methods for developing options may include group processes, discussion groups or sub groups, developing hypothetical plausible scenarios, or a mediators proposal where the mediator puts a proposal on the table and the parties take turns modifying it. However, the most commonly used method is the caucus.

Once the participants are committed to achieving a negotiated settlement, the mediator will propose a brainstorming session to explore potential solutions. This can lead to a final agreement, which diffuses the conflict and provides a new basis for future relations.

The mediator may decide to hold private sessions with both parties in order to move the negotiations along. This caucus session will be confidential. The caucus provides a safe environment in which to brainstorm and surface underlying fears. The goal of the session is to find some common ground by exploring lots of options, and to bring about possible solutions for the parties to think about. Parties can also entertain alternative solutions to their problems without committing themselves to offer the solutions as concessions.



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Biography




Jessica A. Stepp is a graduate of Loyola Law School and a Los Angeles based mediator. Besides being a DRS Certified Mediator for the Los Angeles County Bar Association and an appointed mediator with the Los Angeles Superior Court, she is the executive director of a private mediation organization. Ms. Stepp currently mediates in the areas of professional malpractice, attorney settlement, general litigation, employment law, family law, property disputes and is available for private mediations.

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Website: www.LACountyMediations.com

Additional articles by Jessica A. Stepp



Comments



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 adam ,   Bexleyheath uk    01/04/14 
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How much is mediation and court if I worked
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 Shay ,   Chicago Il    03/24/13 
 Father wants sole custody 
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I want to congratulate you on the work that you have done to benefit you and your daughter. You are a wonderful mother but don't be discouraged dear. Fret not. See your ex in the best light possible. Visualize him changing his mind about the situation. I know it sounds cliche but it can't hurt.
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 kimberly ,   Newfield nj    11/28/12 
 mediation with a school district 
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hi i had a mediation today w the school district and came to an agreement butaftyer thinking real hard on this matter i may have made a mistaaaaake by not taking it to the next level . So i am curious can i back out of the agreement? and if so is there a certain amount of time ?
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 Lori ,   Temple City CA  mom3ade@yahoo.com      10/29/12 
 Pending Mediation against Father wanting "Sole" Custody of our 13 Year Old Daughter 
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In April of 2007 the Father of our Daughter & I ended our relationship of 9 Years due to various reasons like Father Cheating, Into Porn, etc. I chose to leave the home & we have had a verbal agreement since then that our Daughter is with each Parent every other week. This arrangement was working & if one of us was taking a vacation or our Daughter was Sick or had a Softball Game, etc we would allow the other Parent to have our Daughter even thought it might be the other Parents week. As the years have gone by & our Daughter just turned 13 her Father makes plans, enrolls her in activities, etc. without consulting me first. He also refuses to confirm the time he will drop her off on the beginning of my week, He leaves it up to our Daughter to correspond with me instead. This really bothers our Daughter & the times he tells her always seem to change. He does not inform me of her Appointments in advance nor does he tell me he took her to the Doctor/Urgent Care if she gets hurt in sports. I was served with an order to Appear Mediation in which he wants "Sole" Custody & I can have her from 5pm Friday until 5pm Sunday. The Mediation is not until 12/11/12 & he is not letting my Daughter come on her Weekends with me when there are no Orders stating that I can not still have my Daughter Everyother Week. My Daughter is sooooo Upset & now wants to live with me her Biological Mother Full Time giving her Father Visitation on what she feels comfortable with. I had Major Back Surgery in May & I was diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease 2 1/2 years ago. Her Father is claiming that I am abusing my Perscription Drugs & Drinking....I have been a Member Of AA for over 20 Years & I am also currently on the Board of Directors at one of AA's Alano Clubs...I do not abuse my Perscription Drugs nor do I Drink. I still attend & Lead Meetings & also Sponsor People. I have no problem taking a blood test to prove my innosense. My Parkinsons Medication is to control my Tremors, I take it 3x per Day & I can function without the shaking. I am perfectly capable of taking care of my Daughter. The Back Surgery is a success & was done to keep me from getting Crippled from Parkinsons, I do Physical Therapy for my Back & it is getting stronger everyday, I am not confined to Bed by no means. I really need to know if my Daughter's Father is allowed to keep her away from me until the Mediation in December...I appreciate any advice or information you can provide me. Her Father has a very Bad Temper & my Daughter is afraid how he will react when he finds out that she has told me that she wants to live with me, her Mother.
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 Erica ,   Modesto ca    05/29/12 
 Mediation 
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Hi, I would like to know what type of information or details would I have to provide the mediator with for the best interest of our child less confrontation with baby daddy and new wife
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