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Tips For A Successful Mediation

  • Take care of yourself first. Prior to mediation ensure that you:
    • Come well rested.
    • Be positive; anticipate resolution and model respect and honesty.
    • Be calm and patient.
    • Be aware that this process requires parties to understand each other, and this will take time and discussion. Rushing or hurrying the process will lead to an incomplete or inaccurate agreement, if any agreement is reached at all.
    • Be prepared to speak only for yourself, and to listen openly to the perspective of the other party.
  • On the day of mediation, please bring the following items with you:

    • Any documentation that may be relevant to the mediation. This may include: school schedules for the children or yourself, bills, fee notices, doctor/therapist recommendations or schedules, bank statements, property titles, accountant statements or other budget items.
    • Any “homework” from the prior mediation session. If it is the first session please bring the completed information package, if not previously mailed.
    • A list of questions or concerns that you would like the mediator to address at the beginning of the session.
    • Cash, certified check or money order as indicated in the information package provided, if not pre-paid. Most mediators require that the first session be paid in advance but may not require that additional sessions also be paid in advance. In the event that there will only be one session, it must be pre-paid.
  • Understand the basic process or model of mediation to be used by the mediator.

    • Read the information provided by the mediator prior to the session or check out the mediator's website.
    • Make sure the style used by the mediator meets your needs.
    • Ask questions in the opening session to address any concerns or questions you may have regarding the mediation process.
  • Commit to the process.

    • Most conflict is not a result of a single event; rather it is a result of multiple past events. Be prepared to talk about what is important to you, but also listen to what the other party has perceived in the past and present.
    • When mediating custody and access issues, be aware that the focus of the mediation is on developing plans that put the needs and best interests of the children first.
    • Allow the mediator to facilitate the discussion, manage the process, and control the emotional climate in the session. Notify the mediator if you need to speak privately by requesting a caucus, or ask for a break if you need time to organize your thoughts.
    • Be prepared to answer question posed by the mediator or other party. Questions are a way to gain clarification and understanding, and are not intended to challenge your perspective or to indicate that you are not correct. If you feel the question was inappropriate or challenging, take a breath, and calmly state your opinion.
    • Focus on how you wish to have things occur from now on. The past cannot be changed, nor can past wrongs be righted. State requests for changes in a future and positive manner. For example instead of requesting “I want him/her to stop putting me down”, you could suggest “I would like to propose that we speak positively about each other”.
  • Be prompt.

    • Mediators bill on the hour or the start time for the mediation block. The hour starts at the time the mediation is scheduled, not when both parties actually arrive. Being on time prevents additional conflict. Check your mediator’s policy on billing for late or missed sessions.
  • Bring your calendar or planner to each session.

    • If there is to be more than one session, having a calendar or planner makes it easier to schedule next sessions.
  • Know the policy for canceling sessions.

    • The policy for canceling sessions should be clearly explained in the opening session or in the mail out information. If it is not clear, ask for the explanation and be sure it is understood. Although it is very rare for a mediator to cancel a session be aware of the guidelines.
    • Be aware that other parties involved, such as attorneys, may have other cancellation policies. It is the responsibility of the participants, not the mediator, to notify any representatives or subject matter experts as to the time and place of the mediation. Mediators do not pay for the services outside parties attending the mediation, it is the responsibility of the parties.
  • Know the billing/fee schedule for your mediator.

    • Most mediators offer a block time rate or a flat hourly rate. It is usually less expensive to book a 3, 4 or 8-hour block rather than paying the hourly rate.