PRE-FAMILY MEDIATION PREPARATION
Mediation may be used to help people settle many different types of cases, including for example, divorces and other family disputes, disputes among colleagues in the workplace, and contract disputes. In family mediations, parties have a chance to share their views in a safe environment and to constructively discuss important issues such as communication, separation, child custody, support and visitation, alimony, debt, division of property and other family matters.
This list provides parties in family disputes with information to help them prepare for mediation so that the mediation process will be as productive as possible:
· What is the conflict really about for you?
· How does your view of the conflict change, if at all, when you think about it from the other party’s point of view?
· Are some of the problems caused by misunderstandings or hurt feelings?
· What issues do you and the other party agree about?
· What issues do you disagree about?
· What information or things might cause the other party to change his or her mind about the issues you disagree about?
· What might cause you to change your mind?
· Are there objective standards the parties could agree on that might help resolve the dispute?
· What would you like to accomplish at the mediation?
· What does the mediator need to understand to help you accomplish your goals?
· What does the other party need to understand?
· What would you need to feel satisfied with the outcome of the mediation?
· What do you think that the other party needs to feel satisfied?
· If you don’t reach agreement, what is most likely to happen? What is your best possible (realistic) alternative if you don’t reach agreement?
· What is your worst possible (realistic) alternative?
· How would you know if a possible agreement is better than the most likely alternatives? As you compare possible agreements with your alternatives, consider the costs, time and effort required, effect on your relationships with the other party and other people, and the value of just getting the matter resolved, among other things.
· How comfortable are you with the risks of not reaching an agreement, including the risks of going to a more formal process such as court?
· What would you need to feel comfortable reaching an agreement at the mediation session? Is there someone you would need to check with before you finalize an agreement? If so, talk with the mediator about the possibility of having that person attend the mediation session or at least being available between mediation sessions.
· What information should each party bring to the mediation session?
· Who will be at the mediation session? Mediation is most effective when the direct parties in interest participate. Will anyone participate by video, telephone, or be “on call” if needed?
For more information on preparing for family mediation, please see the Family Mediation Brochure produced by the ABA Dispute Resolution Section: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/images/dispute_resolution/Mediation_Guide_Family.pdf