Mediation and Moderation

Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary process that can be used to resolve a wide range of conflicts.  It is a calm, communication focused approach that can benefit all parties involved.  With less frustration and complications than the court system, as well as less paperwork and expense, the non-adversarial approach offers the opportunity to resolve issues with less damage to fragile relationships.

As a neutral third party, a mediator is both impartial and unbiased.  It is the mediators role to facilitate the process, working through differences with the goal of finding a solution that all involved parties find acceptable.  The process preserves self-determination, and is completely voluntary.  It can be extremely effective at resolving a wide variety of disputes including those that revolve around money, property, services, relationship, and communication.  It focuses on finding solutions that will work in the future.  Solutions and agreements may be creative and flexible, as long as all parties voluntarily enter into the agreement.

The benefits of mediation include:

  • Lower Expense. Our mediation fees are less than most attorneys, and since the process is usually completed in a matter of hours, rather than the weeks, months, or years that court cases often require to resolve, the savings in time and money can be significant.
  • In California, mediation is a confidential process. There are no public records, identifying notes are not kept, and the content and progress of mediations cannot be used in in court. (Child abuse or threatened criminal acts may be exempt from mediator confidentiality.)
  • In mediation the parties have control over the resolution, and enter into agreements voluntarily. This self-determination means that no one will force any party into a settlement.  In court and arbitration proceedings, the resolution is determined by a judge, jury or arbitrator, whether the parties are in agreement or not.  In mediation parties are able to consider solutions that those third parties might not be legally able to offer, increasing the possibility that mediation will result in agreements that are mutually acceptable to the parties.
  • When parties work together to find mutually agreeable resolutions to conflict, compliance to the agreement is usually high. Parties may choose to make their agreements admissible and enforceable in a court of law.
  • As a neutral third party, mediators are trained to help parties work through difficult issues in a respectful and productive manner. They guide the process towards a wide range of possible solutions to bring the conflict to resolution.
  • Mediation is held in a conference room or office, not in a court room, which can sometimes be intimidating. Its structure allows full communication and pacing that is appropriate for the parties and the issues at hand.  The knowledge that each party maintains  self-determination, and that a judge or jury will not dictate a solution or stun either side with a big loss, can help parties in mediation relax and be more open to consider potential resolutions.

Successful mediations rely on voluntary participation, where the parties have a stake in resolving the matter, are able and willing to communicate at some level, and where options exist for resolving the conflict.  When one, or both, parties want a decision to be made by someone else (such as a judge or arbitrator), are not sober or are clearly abusing a substance, are not capable of behaving or communicating respectfully, or are violent, mediation is not an appropriate forum to resolve the conflict.

Moderation

Moderation is a form of mediation, conducted before a conflict arises, when one is likely to surface due to historical patterns of conflict or the issues involved. It is the moderator’s role to facilitate the collaborative process, working through differences with the goal of finding productive, creative solutions to complex issues.  Aimed at reducing the potential for conflict and disputes between stakeholders facing challenges and/or important decisions, the moderator remains impartial and unbiased, functioning as a neutral third party to support communication, collaboration, creative brainstorming, problem solving, planning, negotiations and decision making.

Moderated sessions are particularly useful when past decision making sessions between substantially similar groups have led to conflict, or when the potential for conflict is present due to the issues on the table.  Having a moderator facilitate a collaborative session can help to reduce power imbalances within a group, often leading to solutions and decisions that all participants can agree to.  These sessions often involve multiple, or complex issues, and are focused on finding solutions for the future, rather than re-hashing old issues or finding fault or assigning blame for problems.

There are many situations in which having a moderator facilitate a meeting can be constructive, raising the potential for positive communication, collaboration, problem solving, planning, negotiations and decision making, in a wide variety of group dynamics.  Large families may find having a moderator present to discuss and plan the care of elderly relatives, plan estates, or make decisions regarding mutually held assets can reduce the potential for division and contention in relationships.  Family businesses can benefit from moderation services to avoid historical patterns of unproductive decision making.  Blended families addressing expectations, roles, rules, and communication in new living or relationship arrangements often find moderation to be helpful in creating positive, peaceful transitions. Organizations including businesses, churches, schools, and charities can benefit from moderated sessions for strategic planning meetings, board meetings on key issues, transition planning, organizational restructuring or other conflict potential situations.

Moderated sessions may be conducted in our office conference room, or on location if the space is appropriate for the process. Additional fees may apply to on-location moderated sessions.