Mediation is a confidential process in which a neutral (mediator) assists the participants in reaching a voluntary decision about their own dispute. Mediation is different from a trial in that a judge or jury are not making decisions for the participants about their dispute. Participants have a say in and control over how their conflicts are resolved. Mediation can help resolve many issues for the best possible outcome to both parties. ADR refers to a variety of out-of-court processes that resolve conflict peacefully and promote creative solutions. In mediation, a neutral helps people in a dispute to communicate with one another, to understand each other, and if possible, to reach agreements that satisfy everyone’s needs. The neutral does not take sides or decide who was right or wrong in the past. The neutral helps people focus on making their own decisions. Mediation often improves communication, saves people time and money, and leads to longer-lasting agreements. Mediation can be especially effective in family, neighbor, and business conflicts or where the individuals involved want to preserve their relationship.
KEY QUALITIES OF THE MEDIATION PROCESS
Voluntary - Although you are obligated to appear, you can choose to stop the process at any time. As no participant in mediation can impose anything on anyone, everyone is motivated to work together to solve the issues and reach best agreements.
Controlled - Each participant has complete decision-making power and a veto over each and every provision of any mediated agreement. Nothing can be imposed on you.
Confidential - Mediation is generally confidential. Mediation discussions and all materials developed for a mediation are generally not admissible in any subsequent court or other contested proceeding, except for a finalized and signed mediated agreement.
Informed - Individual or mutually acceptable experts can be retained. Expert advice is never determinative in mediation. The participants always retain decision-making power. Mediators are bound to encourage parties to obtain legal counsel and to advise them to have any mediated agreement involving legal issues reviewed by independent legal counsel prior to signing. Whether legal advice is sought is, ultimately, a decision of each mediation participant.
Impartial, Neutral, Balanced and Safe - The mediator has an equal and balanced responsibility to assist each mediating party and cannot favor the interests of any one party over another, nor should the mediator favor a particular result in the mediation. Your mediator is ethically obligated to acknowledge any substantive bias on issues in discussion. The mediator's role is to ensure that parties reach agreements in a voluntarily and informed manner, and not as a result of coercion or intimidation.
Judith A. Oglesby
ADR Program Director
P.O. Box 326
Statesboro, Georgia 30459
(912) 764-8642 (fax)