Q: Does mediation work?
A: Yes. While each case is different, on average 7 out of ten 10 cases reach an agreement.
Q: Are parties required to participate in mediation?
A: No, participation is completely voluntary. Even in court referrals to mediation actually sitting down with the mediator is voluntary. Virginia Code (Section 8.01-576.5) authorizes judges to refer appropriate civil matters to a dispute resolution orientation session. The orientation session is an informational meeting (can be done by telephone) to allow the parties to learn about mediation and consider the appropriateness of their case for mediation. Parties may opt out of the orientation session by submitting in writing their objection to the orientation within fourteen days from the referral (to the mediator or mediation program and the court). Participation in an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process following the orientation session is always voluntary.
Q: What happens if one party declines?
A: The other party/parties are notified that there is no mediation at this time. In court referred cases the court (and if appointed Guardian Ad Litem) are notified that no mediation occured.
Q: Can I stop the mediation.
A: Yes. Mediation is a voluntary process. The mediator and any of the parties may stop the process at any time.
Q: Who mediates the cases?
A: For court referred cases from Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts available court certified mediators are assigned on rotation based availablity. Parties may also hire a mediator privately based on availability or make a specific request.
Q: Who attends the mediation session?
A: It is important that the parties participating in the mediation session have the authority to make decisions regarding the outcome. In private cases (not court referred) the parties most directly involved participate. In court referred cases the parties listed on the petitions participate. Additional participants and professionals can participate by agreement between the parties involved and the mediation facilitator. Parties have a right to consult with legal counsel and while it is not necessary to have an attorney present, either party may choose to do so. If a party chooses to have counsel present it is at their own cost and the other party/parties have the same option or may choose to withdrawal from the process.
Q: How long does the mediation process take?
A: Mediation appointments, called sessions, are scheduled for approximately 2-3 hours. Additional sessions are scheduled by the parties and the mediator if progress is being made. The number of session and even the length of a session is dependent upon the complexity and number of issues that the parties want to work through.
Q: What happens if the mediation does not result in resolution?
A: In private cases (not court referred) the parties make their own choice regarding next steps. In court referred cases the parties prepare for trial and go to court on the trial date already set by the judge.
Q: Are all matters good for mediation?
A: No. Each request and referral assessed for factors that make it appropriate for mediation. The factors considered include, but are not limited to, the nature of the case and the relationship of the parties.
Q: Can a case that is already at trial be mediated?
A: Yes, mediation may be available as an option before and after court trials begin.