Mediation

March 1, 2012    FAQs

What does a mediator do?

A Baltimore Mediation mediator works on behalf of all participants present to have quality discussion to achieve greater clarity and understanding of a situation and to reach the goals of mediation. The mediator listens to the issues of concern, provides summaries and asks questions to help participants work with each other to decide the appropriate solution.  The mediator promotes informed decision making and better understanding of the issues, what is important to all those participating and the possible choices. The mediator does not take sides, make judgments, assess blame, or tell participants what to do. When participants are given the opportunity and assisted with quality interaction, informed decision making and workable solutions are natural byproducts.

Baltimore Mediation mediators follow a transformative approach to mediation and follow the international Association of Conflict Resolution’s
ethical Standards of Practice for Mediators.

What happens if we come to agreement?

When agreements are reached during mediation sessions, the mediator can prepare a memorandum of understanding or a more formal legal agreement signed by the participants such as a Release and Settlement Agreement in litigated civil and commercial matters or a Voluntary Separation and Property Settlement Agreement in divorce matters.

Another document participants can request is a written summary that documents the important issues, options, and tentative agreements of the session. This is often useful for any workplace mediation, group facilitation, or as a tool for participants to review in preparation for the next mediation session in the event of more than one session.

What happens if we begin to mediate and then one of the participants decides the process is not working for them?

Mediation is voluntary. It is requested that if any participant wants to stop mediating that they state such intention at a mediation session in order for all participants to have clarity and understanding of the barriers contributing to ending the mediation. It may also be that, with the help of the mediator, the participants may find a solution that will allow all to participate in a satisfactory and meaningful way.

Will I need an attorney if I choose mediation?

Not necessarily. While you are encouraged to consult with any outside resources with whom you so choose in order to make fully informed decisions, whether legal counsel or otherwise, it is not mandatory. Other resources could include attorneys, financial planners, accountants, realtors, therapists, physicians, labor respresentatives, spiritual advisors and others or any combination.

Is mediation really confidential?

Yes. With the exceptions of child and elder abuse and threats of physical violence in a mediation, what is discussed in a mediation sessions is “mediation communication” and is confidential under both state and federal court rules. It can neither be used against nor for any participant,
and the mediator will not divulge or testify for or against any participant.  Additionally, all participants are asked to sign an Agreement to Mediate
indicating their understanding of the process, including confidentiality. Confidentiality also extends to information transmitted electronically,
such as email. The purpose of confidentiality is to promote full discussion of all relevant issues and exploration of multiple as well as standard
and outside the norm possibilities for the most appropriate resolution within the context of each situation.

How long do mediation sessions last?

Length of mediation sessions can vary. Generally, we recommend setting aside three hours per session whether it is a commercial matter or a family matter. Most commercial matters are concluded in one session. Most non-divorce family matters and most workplace matters are concluded in one session or two. Most separation and divorce or business partner separation matters are concluded in three to six sessions. In the case of multiple participants mediations, such sessions are often a series of half days or full days.

How many sessions does it usually take for separation/divorce issues to be resolved?

It depends on the family. Two years ago, Baltimore Mediation researched 1800 of its family mediation cases and found that the average number of sessions was 3-6 plus an additional session for reviewing the written Voluntary Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. See also above, “How long do mediation sessions last?”

How much does it cost?

Fees are based on an hourly rate, payable at the end of each session and unless otherwise arranged, shared by the participants at the session. If there is a summary or agreement to be written, it is at the same hourly rate. The number of mediation sessions needed is always in the control of the participants. At the conclusion of the decision making sessions where a written agreement is requested, the Baltimore Mediation mediator will estimate the cost for drafting any document for review.

Where do the sessions take place?

The main office of Baltimore Mediation is in Roland Park in Baltimore, Maryland. There are satellite offices in Towson, Ellicott City, and Ocean City. Workplace mediations can be held either at Baltimore Mediation, on-site at the company, or arranged off-site at a location that can provide privacy and confidentiality. Baltimore Mediation mediators provide mediation services for clients throughout the country from coast to coast as well as abroad.

Does Baltimore Mediation have evening and/or weekend hours?

Yes. While most mediations are scheduled between 9:00am and 5:00pm, mediations may be arranged after 5:00 p.m. weekdays. To accommodate multiple participants traveling from out of town, we can also arrange Saturday mediations if necessary.

If this is a family mediation, may we bring our children to the session?

Not usually, but it depends. We encourage parents to talk to their children throughout the process regarding their input, if any, on particular parenting options so long as the child is not placed in the position of having to decide nor of choosing one parent over the other. It is rare that young or older children would be included in a Separation or Divorce mediation unless the child was represented by a Guardian ad Litem or had their own attorney. On the other hand, it is common and encouraged in Separation and Divorce Mediation that older children be invited to participate in a final mediation session after parenting decisions have been made as a way to tangibly model for children cooperation between the parents and to allow for questions and concerns to be addressed in the presence of the mediator who can assist the family with quality dialogue. This decision to include children in a final mediated session is up the parents. Otherwise, children are usually not included in decision making sessions unless the conflict is between the parents and the child, as in Parent-Teen Mediation.

If this is a commercial mediation or a litigated case, may we bring legal counsel or other advisors to the session?

Usually yes, but it depends. We encourage participants, whether businessmen and women, contractors, physicians, business partners or others involved in the dispute, to consult with legal, financial and other counsel of their choosing before and throughout the mediation process. It is each participant’s choice to have a legal or other advisor present in the mediation with them or not. It is not mandatory, and indeed is unusual that legal, financial or other experts or advisors accompany the participants in non-litigated disputes, even though each participant is always welcome to bring one person with them so long as written notice at least 48 hours in advance is provided to both the mediator and the other participants. On the other hand, for those matters that are in litigation, it is common and expected that legal counsel and often a risk manager or insurance representative, when appropriate, will participate in the mediation session in addition to the named parties, unless counsel for both parties prefer not to attend, believe it would be best not to attend, or in the event only one party is represented by counsel. Again, it is up to the participants and their attorneys who attends in addition to the parties themselves. All who participate in the mediation are included in the mediator confidentiality provision.

If this is an employment or workplace matter, may we bring a co-worker or union representative or other person with us to the session?

Usually yes, but it depends. We encourage managers and employees to consult with legal, financial, union, company executives, EAP and other counsel of their choosing before and throughout the mediation process. It is each participant’s choice to have an advisor or support person present in the mediation with them or not. For most non-litigated workplace mediations, the only persons present are the two participants and the mediator. It is not mandatory, and indeed is unusual that legal, financial or other experts or advisors accompany the participants in non-litigated workplace disputes, except in the event of union representation, even though each participant is always welcome to bring one person with them so long as written notice at least 48 hours in advance is provided to both the mediator and the other participants. On the other hand, for those employment matters that are in litigation, it is common and expected that legal counsel will participate in the mediation session, unless counsel for both parties prefer not to attend, believe it would be best not to attend, or in the event only one party is represented by counsel. Again, it is up to the participants and their attorneys who attends in addition to the parties themselves. All who participate in the mediation are included in the mediator confidentiality provision.