Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution whereby the disagreeing parties meet with an independent third party whose role is to facilitate discussion leading to an agreement regarding the issue. There are several steps in the mediation process. Typically, it starts with the mediator holding individual meetings with each party in order to understand each one’s individual perspective and what is important to him or her. The remaining steps all typically are geared toward fostering productive conversation through listening to each party’s perspective, coming up with solutions, and implementing those solutions.
The mediation process usually begins with individual meetings between the mediator and each respective party. These meetings generally have the dual purpose of allowing the parties to get theirs sides of the story off their chests as well as giving the mediator an idea of the parties' desired outcomes, without the other party's presence. The information gathered in this meeting lays down the mediator’s strategy for the remaining parts of the mediation process.
From this point in the mediation process, the parties will meet with the mediator and will really start taking steps to get an agreement in place. At these initial meetings, the parties will each have a chance to give their sides of the story and point out the problems the other one has given him or her. With the mediator there governing the discussion, it forces each person to really listen to the perspective of the other, which can go a long way in getting him or her to realize how he or she has acted unreasonably. Ideally, this will make each person more open to giving concessions to the other in their final agreement.
The second part in the mediation process is the analytical aspect where the parties will try and get to the root of the problem and discuss ideas. This starts with each framing each issue in the appropriate context and brainstorming solutions based on that context. One issue that is commonly resolved through mediation is disagreements over the custody of a child. In this step of the mediation process, the parties may discuss the cause of their concern for not giving the other what he or she wants. With the help of the mediator, the root issues may be addressed without having emotions flare up.
Upon coming up with a potential solution through the discussions facilitated by the mediator, the final step in the mediation process is to hash out the details and put the agreement on paper. The mediator will help the two parties work out the nuances after coming to a general solution each can agree to. By coming to a contractual agreement, the two parties will be legally obligated to follow the solution to which he or she agreed.