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Frequently Asked Questions When Considering Mediation

 

 
   
  WHAT IS MEDIATION?
Mediation is a way to resolve conflict by using a trained, neutral mediator to help you negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. In mediation, you are responsible for describing what you want to achieve by mediation, listening to information from the other party, and suggesting and evaluating possible solutions to the dispute. Ultimately, you and the other party decide whether or not to settle the dispute and, if so, on what terms. The mediator is responsible for making the process understandable and workable by outlining the steps and ground rules of the mediation; by encouraging you and the other party to define and clarify issues; by adapting the process to accommodate cultural differences and variations in style; and by providing opportunities to break through impasse.

Mediation empowers you to put creative solutions in motion by unlocking your imagination and individuality. It presents the opportunity to improve relationships by expressing differences constructively, gaining insight into interests of the other party, and developing mutual understanding.

WHAT DOES THE MEDIATOR DO?
Mediators are trained, impartial third parties who assist parties in reaching an agreement to settle their dispute. Mediators intervene and facilitate communication by helping disputants describe their feelings, clarify issues, determine their true interests, identify underlying concerns, and where possible, negotiate an agreement.

WHAT DON'T MEDIATORS DO?
Mediators do not serve as judge or jury, do not determine right and wrong, and do not place blame on any person. Mediators do not impose a decision on either party like a judge or arbitrator. Their only interest is in helping the parties to resolve differences and reach a mutually agreeable solution. Mediators do not provide legal advice, counseling or therapy.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE MEDIATION PROCESS?
The mediator introduces the process and then invites each party to define the conflict or problem as they see it. As the disputants express their feelings about the situation, the mediator develops a clearer understanding of the conflict, and will ask questions designed to clarify each person’s perspective and define what is desired to move beyond the problem. In this way, important information comes to light, which may not have been understood by the other party. Sometimes the mediators may ask for a private meeting or "caucus" with one disputant at a time in order to get a clear idea of their goals and needs. The mediators may also ask for a "mediator caucus" without the parties present.

WHERE AND WHEN DO MEDIATIONS TAKE PLACE?
Mediation sessions take place at various locations throughout San Luis Obispo County. Creative Mediation uses community centers and our own offices for mediations. The sessions can take place during the day, evening, or weekend at the convenience of the parties involved. Creative Mediation also provides mediation services at three SLO County Superior Court locations each week.

WHAT DOES A MEDIATED AGREEMENT LOOK LIKE?
A settlement or resolution reached between the parties may be oral or written at the discretion of the disputants. Agreements reached in mediation are considered binding and enforceable. Unless otherwise agreed upon, the agreement will be established in writing and signed by each disputant.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE MEDIATION DOES NOT END IN AGREEMENT?
If participants are unable to reach an agreement on the issues in their case, they can seek other ways to resolve their dispute, including the legal system or additional mediation.

WHAT ABOUT CONFIDENTIALITY?
Mediation is confidential. For the process to be successful, both parties must feel free to discuss the issues openly. All participants in the mediation, including the mediators and any observers, will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement before the session begins. By signing the agreement, the parties are making the mediation confidential and preventing information discussed in the session from being used in any future legal proceedings.

HOW LONG IS A MEDIATION SESSION?
Mediation sessions are typically one to three hours. If necessary, a second mediation may be scheduled with the agreement of all parties. Additional fees may be required for extended mediation sessions.

ARE ATTORNEYS OR OTHER ADVISORS ALLOWED IN THE MEDIATION SESSION?
Each party may bring their attorney or advisor to the session but the advisors are encouraged not to participate directly in the mediation process. If an advisor plans to attend a mediation session, they must agree to honor the format of mediation and sign the confidentiality statement. In addition, Creative Mediation also requires prior notification of the advisor’s attendance.

WILL ANYONE ELSE BE AT THE MEDIATION SESSION?
Mediation trainees may be present at your session. Please call Creative Mediation before your mediation session if you do not want observers present.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I HAVE TO CANCEL BEFORE THE MEDIATION SESSION?
If you decide to use the services of Creative Mediation, your decision affects many people. Since Creative Mediation mediators offer their time to resolve your dispute productively, it is extremely important that you attend the mediation session scheduled for you and that you cancel only in case of emergency. If you must cancel, Creative Mediation requires at least a 24-hour cancellation notice or you will be charged for the full cost of the mediation.

WHAT IS SLO SOLUTIONS?
A cost-free conflict resolution service being offered to all SLO residents, sponsored by City of SLO, Cal Poly and Cuesta College.

WHERE CAN I FIND LANDLORD/TENANT INFORMATION & RESOURCES?

Landlords and Tenants:

www.nolo.com - Law forms and do-it-yourself legal resources, kits and books for consumers.

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook  (or call Dept of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-952-5210 for a mailed copy of the “landlord book”)

Student Resources:

CAL POLY:

Housing – Off Campus Rental Information 756-5700 or http://www.housing.calpoly.edu. Free legal advice for Poly students:  Pro Bono Attorney at Poly every other Friday for 15 minute free appointments call 756-1281.

CUESTA:

Free legal advice for Cuesta students:  Pro Bono Attorney at Cuesta for 15 minute free appointments call 546-3289.

Tenant Rights and Advocacy:

www.tenantstogether.org  - This is a CA statewide renters’ rights organization or phone at 415-495-8100.  They also have a new foreclosure info hotline at 415-495-8012.

 
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