What It Is
Conflict can mean a lot of different things: Lack of agreement about parenting time, money or property during a divorce. A disagreement between co-workers or a former employee and a company. A dispute between a contractor and a homeowner about quality of work verses unpaid bills. A feud between neighbors about a barking dog. A fight between different groups in a community about how to use public space. And so on...
Mediation is an opportunity to resolve conflict between you and another where you both control the outcome. The goal of mediation is to come to agreement with the other party that clears up the dispute in a way that you both can live with.
If you pursue the litigation path, you cede control of your situation to someone else i.e. judge, jury, legal process, etc. You may not resolve the conflict and you may not agree with the outcome or feel like you can move on.
Conflict is inevitable. In some form or another, during our whole lives, things will sometimes not go our way, and we will find ourselves in conflict with someone or something. Integrated mediation means learning and growing from our conflicts to become more skillful at working through our inevitable future conflicts.
As your mediator, I guide you through your mediation process. I act as a neutral party: I don't tell the parties what they should do, nor do I have authority to make decisions on how the conflict should be resolved. I also don't give any legal advice.
I help setup the ground rules for a productive mediation, ensure that both parties say what they need to say, facilitate the parties coming up with ideas to resolve differences, and in the end, help you write up your agreement with the other party. An agreement that you both can live with. So they can move on from your conflict, and on with your lives.
A Little About The Actual Mediation Process
When I receive a request to mediate, if possible, I have a brief confidential phone conversation with each party separately. This gives me an opportunity to explain the mediation process to each party and answer any questions. It also helps me understand a little about the case, but I do not share information from my conversations with the other party.
Assuming I conclude the case is "mediate-able" i.e. both parties are willing to proceed with the mediation process in good faith, the parties and I agree on day, time and location. Our location can be anywhere the parties feel comfortable mediating, and if needed, we can rent a conference room by the hour in one of the many facilities available in the Denver metro area.
At the mediation itself, the first thing we'll do is all sign an Agreement to Mediate. This is a short legal document that outlines what we are doing and what my role is and is not. You can download the Agreement to Mediate here if you'd like to look it over in advance.
Next, we'll agree to some ground rules, like taking turns talking, respectful communication, and anything else the parties agree to.
And then generally, I'll ask each party to take a turn summarizing the situation from their perspective. From there, we get into the work of working through the conflict. This can take many forms but generally the parties talking to each other while I guide the mediation process.
If the mediation is successful, towards the end, I'll help the parties write out an agreement (often called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) but can be other documents, like a Parenting Plan, etc.) that contains specific items that the parties have agreed to that resolves the conflict for them. If the parties agree to the MOU, they will sign it and be on their way. Depending on the type of mediation, the parties may also need to file paperwork with the Court.
The mediator acts as a neutral party during the mediation. I don't tell either party what to do or how the conflict should be resolved. Rather, I help you come up with your own solutions.
The mediator does not make decisions for the parties. I have no authority to make any decisions on behalf of either party or about the case. So the parties aren't trying to convince me of anything.
The mediator does not give any legal advice and does not represent either party. Rather, I represent the mediation process itself. If you need legal advice, you would contact an attorney.
A party may be one person or a group of people. In some cases, one or more parties choose to have their attorneys present at the mediation, but the process is still largely the same.
Of course mediation isn't guaranteed to resolve a dispute. Sometimes the parties don't come to agreement, and they choose how to proceed, which could include litigation, walking away, coming back to mediation later or otherwise.
YOU CONTROL OUTCOME: In mediation, you and the other party control the outcome of the process. In litigation, you hand control over to a judge, a jury, your attorneys, the legal process and any number of other factors.
CHEAPER: Mediation is generally much less expensive than litigation.
FASTER: Mediation generally leads to a resolution in a much shorter time frame with much less time spent in the process.
MORE FLEXIBILITY: Mediation generally allows for more flexible, creative ways to resolve conflict.
BETTER RELATIONSHIPS: Mediation allows more opportunity to repair relationship or exit relationships on better terms.
PERSONAL HEALING: Mediation allows much more room for personal, emotional healing in a conflict than litigation.
MOVING ON: Mediation allows the parties a chance to make an agreement where they can truly move on from the conflict.
Types of Mediation
DIVORCE & DOMESTIC MEDIATION