FAQ

Mediation & Moderation

How long does mediation take?

Many mediations can be completed in two hours, but the complexity of the issues involved, and the number of parties participating are variables that can add time. A general rule of thumb is to anticipate an additional hour of mediation for each additional party. In some cases, as long as progress is being made, mediations may require multiple sessions.  As a general practice, 7 hours of mediation in a given day is the limit, after that, parties determine if they believe an additional mediation session will be useful.

Who should come to the mediation session?

Whenever possible, all of the parties involved in the conflict should attend the mediation.  Parties are also invited to bring a support person or advisor if they believe it will contribute to the process.  When additional people will be participating, it is important to include a list of who will be present when scheduling the mediation, so that the other party may consider whether they also want to include a support person or advisor.

Can I bring my kids to mediation?

There is no child care or supervision provided during mediation, and we request that you do not bring children.  In some instances, where minors are a party to the conflict, they can be included but it is important to notify our office of their ages in advance, and for them to have a legal guardian present.

Can I record my mediation session?

No, California law protects mediation as a confidential process, meaning that no audio or visual recordings may be made.

Do you do online or phone mediations?

No, there are practices who do mediations over the phone or online, but that is not a customary part of our practice. Under exceptional circumstances, we will consider requests but as a rule this is not a service we provide.

If we don’t settle in mediation, do we still have to pay?

Yes. The fee is for the mediators’ time and effort in facilitating the process, regardless of the outcome.  The good news is that although there are no guarantees in mediation, they have a very high success rate of reaching a settlement.

What happens if we don’t reach an agreement in mediation?

You have not given up any legal rights by participating in mediation, and therefor retain all of the legal options you had before, if you do not reach a settlement.  Mediation discussions are ‘without prejudice’ which means that they cannot be used by either party in any future legal proceedings.

Can a mediator offer me legal or financial advice?

No.  As a neutral third party, the mediator will remain impartial.  The mediators’ role is to facilitate the process, allowing all parties to communicate what they need to resolve the issues satisfactorily and to move on from the conflict. If you believe that you would benefit from professional legal or financial advice during the process, request a break to call a trust advisor in that field.

Should I bring a lawyer to mediation?

In most mediation cases, you do not need a lawyer with you.  Since the parties are working together towards a solution, not trying to convince a judge or arbitrator of their position, usually people are able to find an agreement that is acceptable to everyone involved.  Unlike court or arbitration, the rules in mediation are simple, straightforward and relatively few, allowing people to fully communicate.  Often is it advisable to consult with a lawyer before the mediation, to discuss any possible legal consequences for a potential settlement.  It is appropriate to seek legal counsel, if desired, before signing an agreement, or to make a lawyers approval a condition of any agreement you enter in to.  If you do choose to bring a lawyer to mediation, it is important that you notify the office when you schedule the appointment, so that the other party can make a determination as to whether they wish to have an attorney present as well.

Are there some cases that should not be mediated?

Yes.  Since mediation is voluntary, if one party refuses to participate or isn’t competent, the case cannot be mediated.  It is also not appropriate if one of the parties wants to set a legal precedent through the case.

What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?

In mediation decisions are agreed upon by the parties involved voluntarily.  In mediation each party retains self-determination, and agreements are only legally admissible and enforceable if the parties choose.  In arbitration, on the other hand, the arbitrator acts as a judge, rendering a legally binding decision.

Do you offer arbitration services as well as mediation services?

No.  In our practice, we place a high value on personal empowerment, where each party retains self-determination. We believe that the most effective resolutions are entered into voluntarily by the parties.  In most cases, the parties involved have a greater level of satisfaction with solutions that are reached through mutual agreement than those are imposed by a third-party decision maker.

What is the difference between mediation and moderation?

Moderation is a pre-emptive form of mediation.  It is held before a specific conflict arises, but when one can be reasonably anticipated due to the issues being addressed or historical patterns of conflict between the parties involved.

How long does moderation take?

The minimum length for moderation is three hours, and many sessions can be completed within four.  For complex issues, or when there are more than six people involved in the process, moderation can take longer, and may include multiple sessions.