Q1: Does mediation work?
Mediation can help you resolve conflict(s) you have with others - family, co-workers, friends. Mediation is completely voluntary, so you only participate if you want to.
Call us to discuss your situation. We will gladly talk with you about Mediation as a Dispute Resolution process at no cost and provide general information.
On average, 7 out of 10 people reach agreement and 9 out of 10 people report having tried mediation as being helpful or very helpful.
The American Bar Association reports a higher success and compliance rate for mediation (80-90%) than court imposed judgement.
Q3: I wasn't referred by the court, but am still interested in mediation. What do I need to do?
Out of pocket costs may apply.
If you are interested in proceeding, and requesting service, there is a $50 non-refundable case opening fee paid by the initiating party. Cost is based on the type of service offered and the service provider assigned to your case.
The service provider will contact and speak with you privately and confidentially over the phone and then contact the other party (or parties) to further assess the appropriateness of the case.
Appointments are scheduled once all parties have been spoken with, and the service provider offers service. Appointments are typically set for 2-3 hours in length and can often be scheduled in a matter of 2-3 weeks.
Please call us at 540-552-1200 with questions and concerns regarding your case. If you get our voicemail, please leave a confidential message regarding your name, telephone number, the reason for your call, and best time to reach you so that we can respond as quickly as possible.
Q2: The court referred me to mediation and told me to contact your office. What do I do?
Your case will be assigned an available mediator based upon when your case paperwork is received at our office from the court. Upon receiving paperwork, an orientation letter will be mailed to the address listed on the court paperwork. The orientation letter includes the mediator's contact information, information regarding mediation, and information about the 5 conflict response styles.
Better Agreements, Inc. does not currently maintain regular office hours. We complete most of our administrative work remotely. The best way to get in touch with us is to leave a voicemail with your contact information and we will be in touch within 1-2 business days.
Q4: Am I required to participate in mediation?
Participation is your choice and is (and should be) completely voluntary.
Judges may refer potentially appropriate cases to a dispute resolution orientation session in which you are expected to speak with the assigned service provider to abide by the court's order. During the orientation session you will speak with the service provider and choose if you want to move forward with scheduling a mediation session. The orientation session is an informational conversation and may be completed by telephone. Read the back of your referral order for instructions to object (procedural timeline applies). Sitting down with the service provider and others involved in the case is voluntary.
Q5: What happens if I decline to participate?
One of the advantages of requesting mediation is that we can reach out to others involved in the case if you decide that you want to receive services.
If you decline services, the service provider notifies others involved in the case that no services will be provided at this time.
In court referred cases the court (and if appointed the Guardian Ad Litem) are notified that no services will be provided.
The service provider is not allowed to say why services are not provided due to confidentiality reasons.
Q7: Who can attend the mediation session?
It is important that all the individuals participating in the mediation session have the authority to make decisions regarding the outcome.
In court referred cases, the individuals listed on the petition participate.
In private cases (not court referred) the individuals most directly involved in the case participate.
Additional participants and professionals can participate by agreement of all those involved in the case and the service provider (ex. attorney, GAL, etc.)
Parties to a court referred case have the right to have their attorney present and to consult with legal counsel at any time. While it is not necessary to have an attorney present, either party may choose to do so. Please talk with your attorney.
If a party chooses to have counsel present, it is at their own cost, and others involved in the case have the same option or choose to withdraw from the process.
We ask that you speak with your service provider and keep them informed if you are requesting your attorney or another participant's attendance.
Q6: Who are the service providers?
Mediators are trained neutral third parties.
For court-referred cases mediators must have current certification in good standing from the Office of Dispute Resolution Program within the Judicial Services Department of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Mediators are assigned to court cases on a rotating basis.
If you are receiving services other than mediation, credentials and certification requirements differ depending on the services being provided.
Q8: How do I contact you for services?
Better Agreements, Inc. does not currently maintain regular office hours. We complete most of our administrative work remotely. The best way to get in touch with us is to leave a voicemail at 540-552-1200 with your contact information and we will be in touch within 1-2 business days.
It can take 1-5 business days for us to receive paperwork from the court. We can provide general information immediately, but cannot assign a service provider or assess your case until the paperwork is received from the court. It is important that the service provider have accurate information in order to assess your case for appropriateness and proceed with providing services.
Once we assign a service provider it can take 1-4 business days to get the paperwork to your assigned service provider depending on logistics.
Please call our office and leave a voicemail so that we may serve you more quickly and effectively.
Q9: How long does the mediation process take?
Mediation appointments, called mediation sessions, may be scheduled for approximately 2-3 hours. Additional sessions are scheduled by all those involved in the case and the service provider if progress is being made. The number of sessions and length of the session(s) are dependent upon the complexity and number of issues the parties want to work through.
Q11: Are all matters good for mediation?
Each request and referral may be assessed for factors that make it more or less appropriate for mediation or other dispute resolution processes. The factors considered include, but are not limited to, the nature of the case and the relationship of the parties; incidents or history of threats of violence.
The service provider assigned to your case may offer options of other services provided by Better Agreements, Inc. that would better your experience working to resolve your conflict. If you are offered alternative services, you have the choice of what service option you would like proceed with.
Q10: What happens if mediation does not result in resolution?
In court referred cases, parties prepare for trial and go to court on the trial date set by the judge.
In private cases (no court referred) those involved in the case make their own choice regarding next steps.
Anyone involved in the case, including the service provider, can end the process at any time. The service provider may choose to end the process because parties are not progressing towards resolution.
Q12: Can a case already at trial be mediated?
Mediation requires parties who want to resolve issues. Mediation may be available before hearings, when there is a continuance in the court hearing, and after a court hearing. Prior to a final court order in a case, requests for referral to mediation can be made by the motion of a party, thier counsel, or on the courts own motion.