We Can't Agree on Anything - Can Mediation Work for us?

Mediation is often especially helpful for people who believe they cannot talk to or agree with the other party at all. Mediators are trained to create the space and structure the conversations to help each person organize their thoughts, state their needs and interests, and hear the other person's needs and interests. The mediator can often see where parties are "stuck" in their communication with each other, and help parties move past that point to understanding and resolution.

How does Mediation Work?

Mediation often begins with a telephone call in which a person asks basic information about the mediation process. If a party wishes, he or she can make an in-person appointment during which the mediator will explain more about the process and the rules that guide it including confidentiality, the impartiality of the mediator. You will also be given an opportunity to describe your relationship with the other party, the current dispute, what you are hoping to acheive through mediation, and your understanding of the other party's needs and desires. You will also be asked to describe where you and the other party get "stuck" in your negotiations, and any specific needs you have regarding the process of mediation. If at that point you wish to proceed to mediation, you will be asked to complete some documents including the Intake Form, Agreement to Mediate, and Confidentiality Form. Parties may begin mediation either individually or jointly. If you have come in on your own, the mediator will send a letter to the other party inviting him or her to come in for an individual session. Then, in one or more sessions, the mediator will assist the parties in outlining their needs and interests, making and considering proposals, and drafting agreements.

How do I choose a mediator?

The selection of your mediator is a very important one. Much like hiring any other service professional to assist you, Lauren encourages you to do your homework, review and consider several mediators. You can search for mediators in Oregon on the Oregon Mediation Association site, selecting for subject matter, geographical location, and languages spoken. You can read the article "Five Steps to Choosing a Qualified Mediator." It can be helpful in your search to consider such factors as educational background, prior experience, subject matter expertise, and professional reputation, as well as office location and costs. Finally, it is important to consider the intangible of finding the right "fit" with a mediator, so that each party feels comfortable with and that they can trust the mediator and the mediation process. To assist parties in their process of interviewing and selecting a mediator, Lauren offers the option of an initial 1/2 hour consultation at no charge.

How much does mediation cost?

Mediation services are charged on an hourly basis. Fees vary by type of mediation. Please see the Pay Online page for more details.

 

How long will it take?

The length of mediation varies depending on the number and complexity of the issues in question, the ability of the parties to use the process effectively. Mediation typically proceeds more quickly when parties have more information at their disposal prior to beginning sessions.

There has been abuse in our relationship - can we still mediate?

Often at the point of seeking mediation, the relationship between the parties has deteriorated significantly and abuse may have occurred. The mediator will interview each party, asking questions about the history of the relationship and abuse that has occurred. Together with each party, the mediator will help you determine whether mediation is appropriate in your case, and if so, to design any procedural or structural adaptations you may need to allow mediation to proceed more safety.

Can my attorney participate?

Parties who are represented by attorneys may have that person attend mediation, as long as all parties to the mediation consent. The attorney is not considered a "party" to the mediation, but rather as a consultant to one of the parties. Often, attorneys will bill the parties separately for their time - the fees paid for mediation do not include attorney time. Some parties choose to arrange with their attorneys to be available by phone for consultation during a mediation session rather than attending personally. Other parties confer with their attorneys separate from the mediation process.

I don't have an attorney - do I need one?

The mediator will encourage each party to seek legal advice regarding their own, separate rights and obligations. The mediator must remain impartial; she can provide both parties general legal information, but does not provide legal advice or legal representation. It can be especially helpful to have an attorney review any final agreements with respect to the needs of each individual. Many parties choose to represent themselves in legal proceedings; this is permissable under the law.


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Lauren M. Mac Neill
JD, LCSW

3310 SE Division

Portland OR

97202

 

503-380-8528