In order to attempt mediation, both parties must be willing to submit to the process. Mediation can begin whether there is currently a case/motion pending or before the court ever becomes involved; however, it is a bit easier to mediate a case without the court’s looming docket. If both parties are willing to mediate, the parties will jointly sign a mediation agreement that explains Attorney Raymond’s role as a neutral in the process and sets forth the parties’ obligations in the mediation. The mediation agreement does not prohibit either party from bringing an action in court or filing any motions.
In the initial mediation session, Attorney Raymond will take in any information that either party wants him to know, meeting jointly with both parties and then caucusing with each party individually, if necessary. While neither party’s communications with Attorney Raymond are privileged or confidential, Attorney Raymond does not have to disclose all information to each party at the mediation sessions and uses his discretion to discuss with each party only what is necessary to help settle the case. The parties are then each given a bit of homework to do, whether in the nature of compiling information to complete financial affidavits, producing financial or other documents or providing Attorney Raymond with necessary facts.
After completing any necessary tasks that Attorney Raymond requires, the parties will meet with Attorney Raymond to gain a better understanding of their rights and obligations and to ensure that Attorney Raymond has all the facts necessary to begin working on any issues. Again, Attorney Raymond will meet with the clients together and, if necessary, separately so that each party knows his or her specific rights and obligations. The important thing to note is that, as a mediator, Attorney Raymond is not an advocate for either party; rather, he is simply there to provide information and facilitate the parties in reaching an agreement. Both parties have the right to retain respective attorneys to represent him or her throughout the mediation process to advocate for his or her rights. Attorney Raymond is willing to work with both self-represented parties in a mediation as well as parties and attorneys.
The number of remaining mediation sessions will depend largely on how complex the issues are and the level of disagreement between the parties. Some cases can be settled after just one or two sessions while others may require more. After all issues have been resolved, Attorney Raymond will draft an agreement that reflects everything agreed-upon in the mediation and each party will have the ability to review the agreement and come back for a final mediation session or two to work out any remaining wrinkles.
After the agreement is signed, Attorney Raymond can appear with the parties in court to ensure that the process is completed if the parties so desire.