Resolving New Jersey Disputes: Mediation
Mediation: 10 Important Points
- Role of Mediator
A mediator serves in a neutral role and therefore does not serve as an attorney, advocate, or representative of either party over the other party. Further, part of the mediator’s function is to assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable settlement, through mutual flexibility, creativity and compromise, which both parties find to be acceptable under the circumstances.
- Open Mind
While it is important to enter a mediation session with a focused idea of how you wish to resolve all disputed issues, it is also important to keep an open mind to all reasonable possibilities of settlement. Litigants who attend mediation with closed minds, inflexible demands and “my way or no way” bottom lines, may in fact be overlooking and bypassing alternate ways of settling a case which are actually extremely fair and reasonable, and beneficial to both parties under the totality of the circumstances.
All offers and counter-offers made in mediation are confidential. This means that if the case does not settle, neither party is permitted to tell the court what the other party offered to settle the case. The reason for this rule is because the courts want to encourage people to openly discuss settlement. If an unaccepted settlement offer in mediation could be used in court against the party making such an offer, this would have a chilling effect on the entire mediation process. Therefore, neither party or their attorneys may disclose to the court any unaccepted offers or counter-offers made by either party in mediation.
- Negotiations Take Patience and Time
One key to any successful negotiation is patience. Even if the other party’s first offer is unacceptable, this does not in any way mean that negotiations should end. Many times, negotiation is a process where a settlement evolves over a period of hours. Further, sometimes there are many issues which are interrelated and complicated. Therefore, nobody should ever give up on the mediation process or end the mediation and angrily storm out merely because the parties seem to be far apart in their positions during the first few minutes of a mediation session.
- Come Prepared
If you have an attorney, it is logical to discuss all aspects of the mediation and negotiation process at least several days before the mediation takes place. This way, you and your lawyer are hopefully on the same page in terms of the outstanding issues, and what are your reasonable expectations and specific goals to accomplish at the mediation session. Further, it is important to have your key documents organized and available for review in the event the mediator asks to review them as part of the mediation process.
Perhaps the most important ground rule in a mediation session is that each party must treat each other respectfully. Mediation is not a place to yell at an ex-spouse or make inappropriate gestures. Such conduct can only hurt rather than help the process of moving towards a mutually acceptable settlement of the case. There are many cases which could easily settle, but fall apart because one or both parties acted inappropriately during a settlement conference. Inappropriate conduct can destroy settlement efforts and cost everyone more time, money, and energy in court. While you do not have to like the other party or even speak directly to him or her, you owe it to yourself and to the entire process to conduct yourself in a courteous manner at all times.
- Ability to Conclude Case
One of the major benefits of mediation is that if the parties are able to reach a settlement, and wish to reduce the agreement to a written document in the mediation session itself, they can do so. Further, the settlement document can be attached to a court order signed by the court at an “uncontested” proceeding in court.
- Allot Appropriate Time in Your Schedule on Mediation Day
Sometimes, people begin with mediation with low expectations, only to find that the process is resulting in substantial and meaningful progress. As with many other processes in life, positive momentum is extremely important. For this reason, it is important to arrange your schedule so that there are no scheduling conflicts requiring you leave mediation early. While you may not need an entire day to mediate, it is logical to keep your schedule as open as possible so that if extra time is available to both parties if necessary to settle a case.
- Benefits of Settlement
Remember at all times that the goal of mediation is settlement of a case. Settlement enables both parties to have input into the end result of a case, rather than hoping that a court will rule in a certain way. Further, settlement allows parties to end the time, expense, and stress of ongoing litigation, and to instead move forward with the rest of their lives.
- Partial Settlements
Even if mediation does not resolve all issues, the process can still assist parties in settling at least some of their issues, and bring them closer towards resolution of the remaining issues, thereby helping to potentially simplify their litigation.
Any case can be peacefully and fairly resolved
with reason and understanding.
Lawrence R. Jones Mediation and Arbitraction Serving; Mercer County NJ, Somerset County NJ, Gloucester County NJ, Atlantic County NJ, Sussex County NJ, Cumberland County NJ, Hunterdon County NJ, Warren County NJ, Cape May County NJ, Salem County NJ, Bergen County NJ, Essex County NJ, Middlesex County NJ, Monmouth County NJ, Hudson County NJ, Ocean County NJ, Union County NJ, Camden County NJ, Passaic County NJ, Morris County NJ, Burlington County NJ