Although there are a number of ways a mediation process can proceed, there is a general framework that ensures that the process is methodical, fair and logical. These steps are applicable to all forms of mediation, from interpersonal disputes, divorce proceedings or workplace issues. This process will ensure that the two parties properly represent their case and the mediators have ample time to confer and decide on the frame work of an agreement. It is important that both parties receive a fair amount of time to state their case and review settlement options.
Steps to a mediation process
The mediation process starts with rules of conduct, with both parties made aware of acceptable conduct during the proceedings and the prior knowledge that the mediator has on the dispute gleaned from briefs or any other sources. All in the room agree on a timeframe for the mediation to reach its resolution.The two parties will each make their case to the mediators, from their perspective and in their own words. This is not treated as testimony would in court, but rather as an opportunity for the mediator to get a better feel of the perspectives of both parties.
The mediator will then ask both parties relevant questions about the issues, once again to gain a better understanding of the way the issue is framed in their mind. Unlike in legal proceedings, these questions are not used to incriminate or pass judgment, only to ensure the mediator has the best possible understanding of the dispute and how he might resolve it. Through this all, the mediator is thinking about how the case might be resolved.
Following this, the mediator may make some preliminary proposals which can be debated and modified by the parties. A “caucus” with the client and either/or his attorney or mediator is also a common means of resolving the dispute and asserting the needs of the party. Further proposals are made here to bring about a settlement.
With the mediator as the third party, eventually a settlement is agreed on and the dispute is resolved. If the agreement is legally binding, it must be reviewed by attorneys and notorized.