Frequently Asked Questions About Mediation
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary, collaborative, confidential process by which people who are in conflict resolve their disputes peacefully, with the help of a highly trained, neutral, conflict resolution professional called a Mediator.
Will the Mediator decide who is right?
No. Your Mediator will help you find your own solution to your conflict and will not take sides. Your Mediator is not a judge and will not issue a ruling or decision of any kind.
Is Mediation confidential?
Yes. Your Mediator will not disclose anything that is discussed in your Mediation to anyone without the written permission of all Participants. Participants must sign a confidentiality agreement as a condition of Mediation. Statements made during Mediation cannot be used in future adversarial proceedings, such as hearings or trials.
Are there exceptions to the confidentiality?
Yes. While Mediation is a confidential process, there are exceptional situations when your Mediator may disclose certain statements made during Mediation, such as: (1) when the Mediator witnesses, or has reason to believe, that a Participant in the Mediation is a threat to him/herself, or any other person, or to the property of others; (2) when the Mediator witnesses, or has reason to believe, that a child is at risk or endangered pursuant to the child protective protocol of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; (3) when a fraudulent statement or document is presented in Mediation and relied upon by a Participant in reaching an agreement; or (4) when a Participant institutes a suit or ethics complaint against the Mediator as relates to the Mediation and disclosure of information from the Mediation is needed for a defense.
Is our Mediator our lawyer?
No. Although your Mediator might be a licensed attorney, he or she does not represent you as your lawyer, and you should not rely on anything your Mediator says as legal advice.
How do I know our Mediator will be fair and neutral?
Your Mediator is bound by the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators and Recommended Guidelines adopted by the Pennsylvania Council of Mediators. (https://www.pamediation.org/recommended-guidelines.html). The cornerstone of these standards is the obligation to remain neutral and impartial throughout the Mediation and to always treat the Participants with respect and fairness.
How long does Mediation take?
It depends. Each Mediation session will likely last no more than two hours. Relatively simple divorce Mediations can often be completed in 3 or 4 sessions, plus some additional hours of your Mediator’s time outside of sessions. More complex divorces will require more sessions and more of your Mediator’s time. The Mediation process usually lasts a few weeks for simple divorces, and a few months for more complex ones. Either Participant may end the Mediation at any time for any reason, or for no reason at all. Your Mediator will end the Mediation if he or she feels the process can no longer meet your needs.
Will the Mediation be in person or virtual?
Mediations can be in person or virtual depending on your and your Mediator’s needs. Mediations will be virtual when recommended by federal, state, or local health authorities.
Will the Mediation be recorded or transcribed?
No. To maintain confidentiality and privacy, your Mediator will not record the Mediation sessions and will not permit the Participants, or anyone else, to do so.
What if I change my mind about wanting to participate in the Mediation?
Mediation is always voluntary. You may terminate it at any time. While your Mediator may encourage you to continue, the choice is always yours.
What happens if we reach an agreement in Mediation?
If you reach an agreement through Mediation, your Mediator will help you memorialize it in a written document. This document will help you understand what you have agreed to and to fulfill your commitments going forward. If, after the Mediation, one participant feels the other has failed to honor the agreement, you may return to Mediation to try to resolve this dispute. Participants should note that the written document might not be enforceable in court and might not be admissible in subsequent administrative hearings, court proceedings and other adversarial venues.
What do I need to do to prepare for my Mediation?
Your Mediator will help you prepare before your first session. Some important parts of your preparation will include: completing a confidential questionnaire that only your Mediator will read, gathering important financial information and documents; agreeing to important Mediation ground rules; arranging your schedule so you can attend all sessions.
What if I need accommodations to participate in a mediation?
Please notify your Mediator. We will do our very best to provide accommodations whenever possible.