Mediation Q&A
  • What Happens During A Mediation Session?
  • What Should I Bring With Me to the Mediation Session?
  • Should An Attorney Attend The Mediation Session With Me?
  • Will I Leave Mediation With A Legally Binding Document?
  • Can An Outside Professional Give Advice During A Mediation Session?
  • Do The Parties Go Through A Mediation Session In The Same Room?
  • How Long Will Mediation Take?
  • Can The Mediator Give Me Legal Advice Or Provide Me With Legal Services?
  • What happens during a Mediation session?

    A mediation session begins with a brief introduction to the mediation process, during which the mediator explains his/her role, the rules of inadmissibility and confidentiality that apply, and answers any questions that the parties may have. The mediator then asks each side to explain his/her position in the dispute. This not only helps familiarize the mediator with the situation at hand, but can also help the parties more clearly understand the other side’s point of view. Once both parties feel that their positions have been heard, the mediator helps the parties begin generating possible solutions to the dispute. Through a negotiation process that utilizes the mediator as a third party neutral, the parties craft a resolution that takes into account both of their interests.

    What should I bring with me to the Mediation session?

    You will be provided with worksheets to fill out regarding your assets, liabilities and budget. Please fill these out prior to your appointment. You should come to the Mediation with as much information regarding your dispute as possible. In addition to the information on your forms, this can include bank statements, financial statements, tax returns, real estate valuations, medical records, etc. The more information that the parties and the Mediator have, the more likely it is that the Mediation session will result in a successful solution.

    Should an attorney attend the Mediation session with me?

    In a court ordered mediation, the parties’ attorneys must attend the mediation. If the issue is not the subject of a lawsuit, it is up to the parties whether to have attorneys present. There are pros and cons. If attorneys are present, they can help clarify your legal rights as well as advise you on the strengths and weaknesses of your legal position. This can be helpful in the negotiation process. If both parties have attorneys present, the attorneys can draft a binding agreement for the parties to sign at the end of the mediation session. It is not, however, necessary that attorneys be present. In some cases, it is beneficial for the parties to communicate directly rather than through their attorneys. This depends on the nature of the issue. For instance, it is often beneficial for families, separating couples, or business partners to attempt to communicate directly. This allows the parties to craft a solution that is based more on their individual needs rather than what they are “entitled” to under the law or what would have been the result had the issue gone to court.

    If you have questions about the role of attorneys in the Divorce Mediation process, I recommend reading the following blog post. Jim Siemens, a local Family Law attorney, does a great job of explaining how the use of Mediation in conjunction with sound legal advice can minimize the stress and expense of the divorce process.

    The Merits of Mediation in Dispute Resolution Jim Siemens, Asheville Family Law Atty

    Will I leave Mediation with a legally binding agreement?

    If both parties have attorneys present, the attorneys can draft a legally binding agreement for the parties to sign at the end of the mediation. If attorneys are not present, the mediator can provide the parties with a Memorandum of Understanding that sets forth the terms they have agreed upon in mediation. The parties must have one of their attorneys put these terms into a binding settlement agreement. A list of attorneys willing to do so at a reasonable cost is available upon request.

    Can an outside professional give advice during a Mediation session?

    Yes. In fact, outside professionals such as CPAs, business valuators, child therapists, parenting coordinators, and realtors, just to name a few, can provide valuable advice allowing the parties to make informed decisions during the mediation process. These professionals can attend the mediation session with the parties. During mediation, these professionals can participate as neutral experts and can be relied upon by both parties – thereby avoiding the expense of each side having to hire their own expert. A list of qualified professionals is available at your request.

    Do the parties go through a Mediation session in the same room?

    Joint mediation sessions are preferable, as they allow parties to hear each others’ needs and concerns. However, the need for separate sessions arises quite often – especially when parties don’t feel comfortable sharing information with each other. Asheville Mediation offers two private conference areas when this is the case.

    How long will Mediation take?

    The length of a mediation session depends on the intricacy of the dispute. A simple dispute can be mediated in as little as 2 hours or less while a multi-layered dispute may take 10 hours or more. In civil disputes such as business dissolutions, personal injury claims, real estate or construction issues, it is usually best to conduct the mediation all at once with a recess if necessary. Parties to divorce and custody mediations may choose to conduct the mediation session all at once or in 2-3 hour intervals until the issues are settled.

    Can the Mediator give me legal advice or provide me with legal services?

    Under NC law, a mediator cannot act as an attorney while conducting a mediation. Therefore, the mediator may not give legal advice or provide legal services as part of his/her mediation services. However, there is an advantage to hiring a mediator who is an attorney: they can be better equipped to guide your negotiations with proper questions and considerations that you may not realize are important. With regard to my practice, my knowledge of law and accounting enables me to bring up legal and financial issues during a mediation that the parties may not have considered. If necessary, they can then consult with outside professionals for the proper advice and make an informed decision regarding the outcome of the dispute.

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