| Mediation |

Mediation is almost always the best alternative to resolve a legal dispute. It’s a confidential process during which a neutral mediator assists the parties to try to reach a mutually-acceptable agreement on the sticky issues. The mediator facilitates this process rather than directing it.

Role of a Woosley Naragon mediator:

The attorney mediator assists the parties to identify the issues, reduce misunderstandings, clarify priorities and explore areas of compromise to find points of agreement.  Any agreement that is reached is based upon the voluntary decisions of the parties and not by a decision of the mediator.  The agreement may resolve all, or only some, of the disputed issues. The parties must mediate in good faith, but they are not compelled to reach an agreement. Mediation has a specific schedule and structure that is not found in informal negotiations.  With the consent of the parties, the mediator may invite other persons to participate in the mediation (such as the parties’ children in a custody matter).

Mediation Process:

We use a variety of techniques to encourage the parties to reach an agreement. These methods are generally designed to increase the empathy between the disputants to improve the dialogue between them. The specific methods depend on the mediator’s training and skill, which can vary greatly. Mediation is becoming a more common method of settling divorces, custody disputes, business matters and will contests, thus resulting in a greater number of training and licensing programs for professional mediators.

The proceedings in Mediation remain confidential, while court hearings are typically a matter of public record. Accordingly, only the involved parties and the mediator will know the results of the mediation. A mediator usually can’t be forced to testify in court as to the content of mediation, and many mediators destroy their records after the mediation is complete. The only exceptions to the confidentiality of Mediation are generally cases that involve allegations of criminal acts such as child abuse.

The fact that both parties are willing to enter into Mediation means that this form of conflict resolution has a greater chance of success than a court trial. The parties in Mediation generally have a greater ability to understand each other’s positions and also have a greater willingness to work on the issues underlying the dispute. Mediation is also more likely to preserve or salvage the relationship that existed between the parties before the dispute.

Compliance with the terms of Mediation is typically high because all of the parties have already agreed to them. This characteristic further lowers the cost of mediation, since the parties don’t need to hire an attorney to enforce compliance. Courts are generally able to enforce the terms of a mediated agreement.

The Memorandum of Understanding is a document, prepared by the mediator, which contains and summarizes the resolution reached by the parties. It is primarily for the benefit of the parties and is not usually legally binding unless both parties agree.

Mediation Fees:

For the first two-hour Mediation session, the fee is only $300. After this, if more time is required, Woosley Naragon charges only $222 per hour. Mediation usually requir­­es less time than formal legal proceedings, especially since a resolution can often be achieved in a matter of hours, whereas a court may require months or even years to settle a protracted dispute, such as a divorce case. This difference frequently results in Mediation costing significantly less than a court trial.

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