Do I have to stay in the mediation process until an agreement is reached?
No. Although you may have been sent to the mediation by a court order, mediation is a voluntary process. That means you may leave at any time.
Does the mediator make a decision during mediation?
No. The mediator is a facilitator but is not a judge or arbitrator and does not make any binding decisions. The parties control the outcome and, if they reach an agreement, will be the decision makers.
Is mediation public or private?
Mediation is a private process. No one from the public is allowed to attend the mediation without prior approval from both parties.
May I bring my attorney with me?
Yes. Very often, the parties bring their attorneys with them to the mediation. When the attorneys do not attend the mediation, or when parties are self-represented, our mediators encourage the parties to consult with a lawyer after the mediation session and before signing any written mediated settlement agreement. This is in order to ensure their legal rights are being protected and the agreement is in their best interests.
Are verbal agreements made in mediation binding?
No. Our agreements to mediate specifically provide that agreements made in mediation are not binding on the parties unless they are put in writing and signed by both the parties and their attorneys.
Can the mediator tell others about what we discuss in mediation?
No. The confidentiality rules that apply to the mediation process preclude the mediator from telling others what has been discussed in a mediation.
What can the mediator tell a judge about what was discussed at mediation?
Court rules and laws do not allow mediators to testify at the trial of a case that was not resolved in mediation. Mediators also may not testify at a court hearing in which one party claims an agreement was reached in mediation and the other party disagrees. It often happens that, once an agreement is reached and fully signed, parties ask the mediator to tell the judge that an agreement has been reached. In these circumstances the mediator will relay this information to the court.
Can the parties tell the judge about communications made in the mediation process?
Court rules and laws preclude the parties and their lawyers from testifying at the trial of a case that did not settle in mediation about what was said during the mediation process. These provisions exist to encourage the parties to speak openly and honestly, to throw out ideas, and to brainstorm during the mediation process without fear of having their words used against them at trial.
What if I want to speak privately with my lawyer during the mediation?
Our mediators encourage the parties to let them know when they want to take a break or want to speak privately with their lawyers and will allow them to do so.
Can I save money by going to mediation?
If your case is successfully settled in mediation, you are likely to save substantial funds. Preparing a case for trial and trying a case can cost tens of thousands of dollars- sometimes more. The cost of a typical mediation does not come close to this. However, if your case does not get settled in mediation, then the cost of mediation will increase the overall cost of your case. That being said, many litigants choose mediation because they feel the chances of a successful mediation outweigh the risk of added expense incurred due to an unsuccessful mediation.