What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a problem solving process in which a neutral professional (the mediator) facilitates communication between participants regarding issues in a divorce, post-divorce or other domestic relations matter. The mediator helps the participants discuss issues of concern to them, and if the issues concern their children, to develop a plan that is in the best interest of the children.
How Does Mediation Work?
Cases are referred to Mediation Services by a Judge or Magistrate or an individual may begin the mediation process by submitting a completed Request for Mediation form. Mediation Services then schedules a mediation session and notifies all the participants, in person or by mail, of the date and time of the mediation session. Mediation sessions may be held in the Mediation Services Offices, 373 S. High Street, 3rd floor, Columbus, Ohio or in a private mediator’s office.
Before the mediation session begins, each participant is asked to complete an intake form. A Mediation Services staff member then meets with each participant individually to review the intake form and discuss any questions or concerns the participant may have about the mediation process.
At the beginning of the mediation session, the mediator describes the mediation process and then asks each participant to present his or her view of the issues. The mediator guides the communication process so that each participant has a chance to be heard. Conflicts are discussed one at a time, and various solutions are explored. The mediator may help participants develop options to resolve the issues, but the final agreement is made by the parties.
What Are the Benefits of Mediation?
Mediation is a process that gives the participants the opportunity to resolve issues themselves rather than having a judge or magistrate decide for them. The mediator does not make any decisions for the participants. Instead, the mediator helps the parties come to an agreement that works for them.
What Issues Can Be Mediated?
Mediation can be helpful in resolving issues such as:
Do We Both Have to Participate?
Mediation is a joint, cooperative problem solving process, and it is necessary for both parties to participate. The parties work together, with the help of the mediator, to develop mutually agreed upon solutions.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Mediators help the parties reach their own agreements and cannot give legal advice. Attorneys rarely attend domestic relations mediation sessions. If a party wants an attorney to attend the mediation session, he or she should contact the Mediation Services Office prior to the mediation session. Most parties find it useful to consult with an attorney, before or after the mediation session, to discuss their rights and responsibilities. Attorneys help their clients understand the law and make informed decisions. If the parties reach agreement in mediation, an attorney may write up the final agreement and officially complete the legal procedure.
What Does It Cost?
Private mediator fees vary; the usual charge is between $80 to $100 dollars per hour. The parties typically divide this cost 50/50 or in proportion to their incomes. There are several mediators who offer a sliding fee scale, which is based on income.
Mediation is provided at no charge to parties who have lower incomes and are unable to pay a private mediator.
How Long Does It Take?
A mediation session may take 2 to 2½ hours. The number of sessions required to complete mediation depends on the number and complexity of the issues that are being mediated. Sessions are scheduled at times convenient to the parties and mediator. Many private mediators are available in the evenings and on weekends.
Is the Agreement Legally Binding?
Mediation agreements become legally binding once they are reviewed by the parties' attorneys, presented to the Court in the form of a Judgment Entry, and approved by the Judge or Magistrate. This process is necessary to make the agreement reached in mediation an enforceable Court Order. Additionally, in Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage cases, the parties must appear in Court on the scheduled Court date to acknowledge their agreement.
What Happens if No Agreement is Reached?
A mediation session may be terminated by any of the participants or by the mediator. If no agreement is reached, the parties appear for their previously scheduled Court hearing.
What About Confidentiality?
The only information the mediator shares with the Court is the outcome of the mediation. The mediator is not permitted to share other information with the Court or give the Court a copy of the Agreement reached in mediation without the consent of all the participants. The only exception is that a mediator may be required to report new allegations of abuse or neglect of a child, threats of bodily harm and information about certain crimes.
Can I Bring My New Spouse, Fiancé, Girlfriend or Boyfriend to the Mediation?
Usually the mediation session includes only parents or non-parents who are requesting custody or visitation. If you believe there are other people who should participate, contact the Mediation Services Office prior to the mediation session. Individuals who accompany participants to the session, and who do not participate in the actual mediation session, may wait in the Mediation Services reception area.
Childcare is NOT available. Please do not bring children to the mediationsession
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