How does mediation work?

Mediation is a process where disputing parties sit down with a neutral mediator, who acts to encourage and facilitate a mutually acceptable agreement. This is far different from litigation or even arbitration, in which the resolution of the dispute is imposed on the parties. Because the outcome is mutually agreed upon, mediation is seen as the “win-win” alternative. In litigation there is generally one loser–and sometimes two.


What is the mediator’s role?

The mediator has no stake in the outcome of the dispute and has no authority to impose decisions on the parties. Rather, the mediator’s role is to open lines of communication, help the parties understand their interests, develop and assess their options, and shape their own settlement.

To help encourage the parties to speak candidly, it is usually agreed that everything said in mediation is confidential.

The mediator is familiar with the relevant legal issues involved but does not provide legal advice to the parties. When an agreement is reached, the mediator drafts a “memorandum of understanding” that is forwarded to both parties and their attorneys.



Are certain types of disputes better suited to mediation than others?

Mediation has been successfully applied in construction, commercial and business disputes, divorce cases, parentage cases, personal injury claims, employee grievances, real estate disputes, product liability cases, contested estates and guardianships, and virtually every other type of civil case imaginable.


What if mediation doesn’t work?

If mediation does not result in an agreement between the parties, litigation is still an option. But even in cases where a complete agreement is not reached, the parties often reach partial agreements or are able to narrow the issues, making litigation less complex. In all mediation, each party walks away more knowledgeable about the facts, issues, and the other party’s position.


IMG_9999_83Where does the mediation take place, and how much time does it take?

Most mediation sessions are conducted at the McCarthy-Bickes Mediation Center, which is located  at 132 S. Water St., Suite 420, Decatur, Illinois. Alternate sites can be utilized when necessary, and when it is acceptable to the parties and the mediator.

A typical mediation session lasts approximately three hours, and sometimes longer. In some instances, more than one session is needed. The parties can return for as many mediation sessions as they desire while they work towards resolving their conflict.