What is mediation?

 Mediation is a voluntary process in which two or more parties involved in a dispute work with an impartial party, the mediator, to generate their own solutions in settling their conflict. Unlike a judge whose decisions subject one party to win and the other party to lose, mediation is about finding a solution that works for both parties.

Why mediation? Mediation works. It is more cost effective than litigation. Mediation is also faster and more flexible than litigation. This means that the parties have more power to negotiate and find creative resolutions to their problems without the rigid and often cumbersome procedural rules associated with litigation.

When does mediation occur? Mediation is always an option if you are thinking about taking your dispute to court. You may also consider mediation if the dispute has been ongoing, if you want to preserve a relationship being affected by the conflict, if the dispute is upsetting and affecting your daily life, if you cannot afford the time and cost involved with litigation, if you would like to speak to the other party so they may hear your concerns, or if you would like to resolve the dispute yourself without a third party judgment.

What is the mediator’s role?  The mediator’s role is to facilitate communication between the parties, not to impose solutions. Mediators do not advise, take sides or render a judgment. Because Meaningful Mediation is run by a licensed Idaho attorney, some evaluation of the law underlying a given dispute is optional at the discretion of the parties, but the prevailing preferred philosophy is for the mediator to facilitate communication only and not make evaluations.

How long does mediation last? There is no time limit set on a mediation. The length of a typical divorce/custody mediation can range between 3 and 10 hours (or longer) but is ultimately determined by how much time is needed to work through the issues. Sometimes multiple sessions are required but the process is controlled by the parties as is the length of the mediation/sessions.

How much does mediation cost? Meaningful Mediation charges between $100-$200/hour (depending on the type of case) and the costs are split between the two parties). Therefore, the cost of mediation for each party per hour is about ¼ of the cost of typical legal fees for an attorney in southeast Idaho and the results are often better and quicker as well.

Why is mediation less expensive than using divorce attorneys?When a party hires an attorney, that attorney can only represent the interests of that party. The other party then hires an attorney to represent their interests. Both parties are paying their attorneys, who usually engage in discovery, court hearings and trials. In mediation, the mediator represents NEITHER party but works to help both achieve a mutually agreed upon settlement that is fair for each of them. Consequently, mediation is substantially less expensive than litigation. When people focus on solving the problem rather than focusing on who is right, it is a much more expeditious process. Getting divorced through the trial process may take over a year. Mediation may last only a session or two.

Are all cases appropriate for mediation?Not unless both parties are willing and of sound mind to do so. Cases regarding domestic abuse can also be inappropriate for mediation in some cases. If you have a question regarding the appropriateness of mediation in your case, please contact us for a full screening to determine the matter.

Is mediation confidential? Yes, except in cases of abuse or criminal wrongdoing. Otherwise, the mediator and the parties sign an agreement that they will keep everything that is revealed during the mediation confidential. Confidentiality allows the parties to conduct the mediation in an open and safe manner. People are more secure sharing information when it cannot be used for purposes other than the mediation.

Why select Meaningful Mediation as your mediator? Steven Dalling is a licensed attorney who specializes in family law and has been mediating different cases since 2008. Mr. Dalling has hundreds of hours of mediation specific training and over a thousand hours of actual mediation experience. Mr. Dalling has also been approved for the Idaho Supreme Court Roster for Divorce/Child Custody Mediation. While Mr. Dalling has also received training in Environmental Law Mediation he prefers divorce/child custody and business law/contracts mediation.

Statistics show that 50% of marriages end in divorce; and child custody disputes often arise even without any marriage at all. The majority of these cases in Idaho end up in mediation by court order even if the parties have not opted for mediation. Therefore, it is likely that you will end up in mediation one way or another but a lot of legal fees can be avoided by considering mediation on the front end.

If you find yourself in a place where you need to dissolve your marriage and/or determine the custody of your children, consider Meaningful Mediation. If you have an attorney involved – ask that your case be referred to mediation and we would be happy to help you get the matter resolved.