Frequently Asked Questions about Mediation

What are the Benefits of Mediation Compared to Other Approaches?

  • Mediation is informal, less time-consuming, and less costly financially and emotionally than more formal arbitration and litigation.
  • Mediators first help the parties negotiate communication guidelines for the session. Mediators guide the parties through a simple process to help keep the conversation constructive and clear.
  • In mediation, each person’s needs/interests are central to the solution generation conversation.
  • In mediation, the parties keep control over the resolution of their situation. Mediators do not give advice nor make any decisions for the parties. In contrast, in litigation or arbitration the neutral has decision-making power.
  • In mediation, parties can find creative solutions to the dispute, rather than the limited options through litigation or arbitration.
  • Mediation is private and voluntary, unlike court actions.
  • Mediation is better than ignoring a conflict, as it helps parties find closure to situations and move forward in their lives.
  • Mediated agreements provide satisfaction for the parties because they have crafted the solutions themselves.
  • Mediation can repair or strengthen relationships.

Who Can Attend a Mediation Session?

All parties directly involved in the case are invited to attend the mediation. Legal advisers, witnesses, and other support people may also be included.

How is the Outcome of Mediation Determined and Who Prepares it?

The parties to the mediation control the outcome. The mediator does not give any advice, nor do they make any decisions for the parties. The mediator can help the parties draft a written agreement.

How Long Does Mediation Take?

The length of the mediation process depends upon the number of issues to be discussed and the complexity of the relationship of the parties. An initial mediation session is usually scheduled for two hours.

Does a Mediator Stay Neutral and Avoid Taking Sides?

Mediators are trained to remain neutral and act impartially. Mediators are not advocates for any party. Parties should tell the mediator if they feel the process is not neutral.

How Do I Prepare to Participate in Mediation?

Prior to the mediation session, you may wish to:

  • Fully analyze and understand your issues and needs.
  • Prepare to engage constructively and respectfully to resolve the issues.
  • Be open to hearing possible solutions that meet the needs of everyone.
  • Ask the mediator any questions you have about their role or the process.
  • Also visit our Preparing for Your Mediation page, for more information.

Is Mediation Confidential?

In California, mediation is confidential. The parties agree at the beginning of the mediation session that if the case is not resolved in mediation, the mediation proceedings are not admissible in a court of law, and they will not call the mediators as witnesses. Mediation is protected by the California Evidence Code.