Q: What is Mediation?
A: Mediation is a confidential meeting with a third party neutral person who facilitates
dispute resolution. Basically, a trained neutral third party assists in the negotiation and dispute resolution.
The neutral third party (mediator) helps to identify issues and discuss solutions that a court is not at liberty to grant in a common legal dispute. In mediation, the parties control the outcome. The parties exercise their self-determination in resolving a matter versus having a judge or jury in a courtroom arena make the decision. They step “outside the box” and look for areas of mutual agreement and benefit (“win-win” solutions). Often times a business or personal relationship is enhanced. And all discussions remain confidential unless otherwise agreed to or as provided by law.
I often like to give the example, which was given to me in my training, of two young girls arguing with each other over an orange. They went to their mother to act as judge to determine who would get the orange, and the mother quickly cut the orange in half giving one half to each young girl. However, the outcome was unsatisfactory to each girl because a mere half of an orange did not suit their needs. For you see, one young girl wanted the orange peel for a recipe which called for the zest of one orange, and the other girl wanted to squeeze the orange to make orange juice. Had the mother (judge) taken the time to find the desires of both of the young girls they both could have had what they desired as opposed to one half of what they each needed.
Q: What do I do as a Mediator?
A: I encourage, facilitate, and empower each party to reach a resolution by helping each party to identify the real motivations behind each issue, helping each party identify and define the issues of the case, fostering joint problem solving, identifying if some middle ground exists, and exploring alternative settlement possibilities.
As your mediator, it is my job to remain neutral at all times during this process. Although I am an attorney, I may not give you legal advice, I may not tell you what the resolution of the dispute should be, nor do I evaluate or judge the merits or outcome of the case.
Now that doesn’t mean that in individual caucus I won’t use my legal experience to play devil’s advocate, question your logic, or ask both parties to consider some difficult questions in an effort to reach a mutually acceptable settlement. However, what I say during those times should not be misconstrued as legal advice, or that I am judging the merits of the case. My goal is not to judge during this process, in fact, I am using the same techniques in the opposing party’s caucus. My goal in using this technique is to help the parties to consider the strengths and weakness of their case and empower the parties to consider some alternatives that are not available to them should the case be determined in court.
Q: What is the advantage of hiring an attorney as a mediator?
A: In 2006 the requirement to be an attorney to perform mediation services was eliminated. Although, there are advantages to having varied background experiences in those performing mediation services, there is a great advantage to hiring an attorney to mediate your dispute. A mediator cannot give legal advice in mediation because it is the mediator’s job to remain neutral. However, a mediator, who has the legal education and experience of an attorney, will know the proper questions to facilitate, assist and empower each party to identify and distinguish between the legal issues and non-legal (often emotional) issues that hamper the ability to reach a solution; foster joint problem-solving and explore alternative settlement options.
Q: How long does mediation take?
A: The average mediation lasts between 2-4 hours. However, you should plan for a half or full day mediation to allow plenty of time to explore various settlement options.
Q: What is a caucus?
A: A caucus is a fancy name for a private meeting. A caucus is one of the tools use by a mediator to help the parties freely discuss their ideas, concerns, issues, and realistically assess each party’s case. In the private meeting please feel free to share, disclose or discuss with me anything you feel is pertinent to your decision making process. I shall keep anything said in a private meeting confidential unless the disclosing party gives me permission to disclose the information or where disclosure is required by law.
Q: What is my job as a party to the mediation?
A: It is your job, as a party to the mediation, to keep an open mind and consider the options, to be respectful of the other party, and not to interrupt any person while he/she is speaking. During the time that the other party is speaking, the non-speaking party needs to listen carefully to them regardless of whether or not you agree, attempt to understand the position of the opposing party, and make notes so you don’t forget what you would like to say when it becomes your turn to speak. Each party will be given the full opportunity to speak. I have found that when each party listens and really appreciates the other party’s position it helps to create understanding, facilitate compromise, and creates a much greater chance of a successful mediation.
Q: If the mediator doesn’t give me legal advice, how do I get legal advice?
A: If you are not already represented by counsel, you have right to choose whether or not you would like to hire counsel. I do encourage each party to hire legal representation as it will help you to understand your legal rights, legal obligations, and help you to more accurately determine the strengths and weaknesses of your case. It is the duty of your attorney to advise you and represent you as a party. However, the power is in your hands as the party to make the decisions in regard to your mediation.
Q: What are the mediator’s qualifications? (Go To Experience)
A: As a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator, Mrs. Weaver has been through a rigorous two-part training program that contained both classroom and real-world training. Certified mediators are bound by ethical and procedural rules of conduct and
are required to participate in additional training every two years in order to keep their certification current. Mrs. Weaver is also a lawyer who is certified in both Florida and California.
Q: If the mediator is also a lawyer, why can’t she give one or both of us legal advice?
A: The role of a mediator is quite separate from the role of a lawyer. A mediator has to remain neutral and not be partial to either party. Therefore, a mediator can use their knowledge to assist parties during the mediation but cannot give legal advice. However, both parties are encouraged to have an attorney of their choice look over the mediation agreement before they sign it. Additionally, Mrs. Weaver does allow attorneys for each party to be present to present the case and the will of the party they represent. However, the decision makers on both side of the dispute must be present at the mediation.
Q: Will the mediator prepare the court documents?
A: No. The mediator will prepare a mediation agreement which lists all of the items you have agreed upon. The mediation agreement will contain much of the information needed to file the court documents.
Q: How many mediation sessions will we need to attend?
A: The amount of sessions needed is dependent on the amount of issues each party wishes to discuss as well are how willing each party is to come to an agreement.