How Mediation Works
In mediation, an impartial person (mediator) helps people reach agreements they can all accept. The mediator helps everyone talk about the issues in ways that can make it easier to settle the dispute. Mediators do not make decisions. Agreements can only be reached if everyone agrees.
- Choosing a mediator: Parties must get a current list of mediators from the ADR Programs office. Information about our panel members is available here or go to the ADR Programs office in Martinez. To choose a mediator, one party (such as the plaintiff) can circle the names of panel members they want to choose, or cross off names of panel members they do not want to choose, before sending that list to the other party.
- Mediator style: Mediators help parties focus on important issues, and often ask for ideas about settling the conflict. Some mediators will tell the parties what they think might happen if the case went to trial. Others help the parties decide what solution they want for themselves.
- Mediation summary: Before mediation, each party must write a summary (no more than 5 pages) explaining the dispute. When you have finished your mediation summary, you must send this to the other parties and the mediator at least 5 court days before the first mediation session.
- Attendance: Unless excused by the assigned judge, ALL parties must attend the mediation in person.
- Confidentiality: Mediation gives you an opportunity to talk openly and explore a full range of ideas for resolving your conflict. To encourage this, the information prepared for or discussed in the mediation cannot be used as evidence in court, and the mediator cannot be forced to testify about what happened or was said in the mediation. The mediator will only report to the court whether or not an agreement was reached.
- Fees: If the parties are referred to the court ADR program, mediators from the court's current list, who are informed that it is a court referred case, and are willing to accept the case donate the first half hour spent scheduling or preparing for mediation. They also donate the first two hours of mediation. If parties need more time, they must pay that person’s regular fees. Some mediators ask for a deposit before mediation starts. Mediators who do this must give back whatever is left after counting the time he or she spent preparing for or doing the mediation. A party whose court fees have been waived (canceled) may ask if their mediation fees or deposit can be waived
For more information, see the frequently asked questions about mediation.
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