Is mediation voluntary?
Answer: Yes. The parties must agree to try to resolve their dispute through mediation and may suspend or withdraw at any time.
If we reach and agreement will it be enforceable?
Answer: It depends. If the agreement meets the legal requirements of a contract, then it would be enforceable. The intentions of the parties are important here. Be sure the mediator knows what you hope to achieve as a result of mediation.
Will I be asked to sign anything prior to the meeting.
Answer: The mediator should ask the parties to sign an agreement to mediate. This document will outline the rules of the mediation and remind the parties that the mediator is not available to either party for testimony or representation against the other. Nor are the mediators notes or documents available in a court of law.
Before signing an agreement can I have my lawyer look it over?
Answer: Yes. This could be important. The mediator should make appropriate provisions for such requests.
Is everything said in a mediation session confidential?
Answer: Yes, with only a few exceptions which the mediator should review. Statements made and/or documents produced are not admissable in court against either party. The mediator should explain any exceptions such as evidence of child abuse or ongoing or future criminal activity.
During the mediation might I have some private time with the mediator?
Answer: Yes. Mediators call private sessions caucuses and usually try to spend an equal amount of private time with each party. Anything said to the mediator in a private meeting or caucus is also confidential. The mediator may or may not suggest that you allow some material or documents to be shared with the other party, but the choice will be yours.
Can I bring my attorney/supportive friend to the mediation?
Answer: Usually yes, but ask the mediator about this so that no one is taken by surprise at the meeting.