FAQs

FAQs

FAQs

A categorized listing of the most frequently asked questions we receive in relation to alternative dispute resolution services and conflict management. Have a question that you don’t see here? Contact us today!

Business

  • What sort of companies use mediators ?

    Almost all types of companies use external mediators at one time or another, ranging from small family businesses to multinational corporation. A survey conducted by Price Waterhouse and Cornell’s PERC Institute on Conflict Resolution of over 530 corporations in the Fortune 1000 category revealed that:

    • 90% of respondents view Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a critical cost-control technique.
    • 54% of respondents indicate that cost pressures directly affected their decisions to use mediators.
    • 88% of respondents reported using mediation in the last three years.
    • 23% of respondents use grievance procedures for non-union employment dispute resolution.
  • Don’t companies usually handle problems like this themselves?

    Not all problems can be handled by the Human Resources Department. Often an external professional mediator is necessary to avoid potential conflict of interest on the part of the company, the union or the individual. With the neutrality and confidentiality of the process, mediation can:

    • prevent conflict escalating into costly legal disputes
    • decrease staff turnover
    • decrease absenteeism
    • enhance team cohesiveness
    • improve morale
    • promote productivity without your organization
    • enable employees to successfully deal with interpersonal conflict on their own
  • Does mediation really work?

    The answer is "yes". According to a report entitled "Controlling the Costs of Conflict", corporations that have developed collaborative conflict management systems reported significat litigation cost savings. For example, the firm of Brown and Root reported an 80% reduction in outside litigation costs. Motorola reported a 75% reduction over a period of six years, and NCR reported a drop of pending lawsuit from 263 to 28 between the years 1984 and 1993.

  • How does mediation help my bottom line?

    Chances are that both the company and the customer want to get past whatever their issue is, and return to their prior business dealings, especially if they have worked well in the past. Offering mediation will likely surprise, but greatly please your customers. You are showing you are proud of your products or services and are prepared to support your position. Yet you are also showing you care for your customers and their business, and will do whatever it takes to resolve problems. Keep your customers happy, and they will reciprocate.

  • How does mediation help my bottom line?

    Chances are that both the company and the customer want to get past whatever their issue is, and return to their prior business dealings, especially if they have worked well in the past. Offering mediation will likely surprise, but greatly please your customers. You are showing you are proud of your products or services and are prepared to support your position. Yet you are also showing you care for your customers and their business, and will do whatever it takes to resolve problems. Keep your customers happy, and they will reciprocate.

Divorce

  • What is divorce mediation?

    The divorce mediation process is still the facilitative mediation process we use most for mediation. However we have specially trained mediators who are equipped to deal with complex issues and heightened emotions of seperation or divorce. Divorce mediation is really where both parties are ready to make some compromises in the hope that they will resolve their differences, create an agreement, and move on with their respective lives - saving money, time and emotional energy. Most times, that is exactly what happens.

  • What gets discussed at divorce mediation?

    We will discuss any and all issues that have not been resolved between the divorcing parties. These include, but are not limited to: division of assets, sharing of debts, marital property, custody and parenting plans if there are children, child support, visitation, alimony, personal items... in short, if it needs to be addressed, we’ll address it.

  • Does mediation work in every divorce case?

    Unfortunately, no mediator can "guarantee" a mediated settlement. That depends totally on the parties entering mediation. What we can guarantee is a completely confidential, neutral and non-confrontational setting, as well as a safe and established process that will help you resolve your outstanding issues. However if one or both parties do not want to settle, want to continue fighting or "punish" the other, are determined to go to court or do not enter mediation in good faith, then mediation will not succeed.

  • How long will it take and what does it cost?

    That depends on how many issues are to be resolved and how well the parties have prepared for mediation. Prior to the actual session, a Preparation Kit is sent to both parties. In the kit are forms requiring full disclosure on all relevant information. If all information is available and both parties enter mediation in good fath, all issues might be resolved in one or two sessions. Depending upon the circumstances, it may take longer.

  • Does the mediator prepare the divorce papers?

    Once outstanding issues have been resolved, the mediator will draft a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU) or Divorce Agreement detailing the agreements that have been reached. After both parties are comfortable with the wording and have shown it to their attorneys, they will be asked to sign the MOU. This document will become the basis for the divorce papers.

  • Do we have to use a lawyer to get a divorce?

    In some states or provinces, you may be allowed to represent yourselves, but we strongly suggest you have a lawyer. Mediators will not represent anyone in court.

  • Can mediation help after we get divorced?

    Yes. As time goes on, one party or the other may question what  was discussed and agreed to in mediation on a certain issue. While you will always have the Memorandum of Understanding to refer to, a brief session with your mediator could avoid potential conflict. Also, circumstances eventually change. It may be necessary to modify the agreement t account for these changes. In many cases, it saves the parties from having to go back to court.

  • We’re breaking up but are not legally married. Can mediation work for us?

    Issues faced by couples that are co-habiting are very similar to issues faced bymarried couples. In mediation, we do not differentiate. If you have issues to resolve, we will help you resolve them.

  • Can mediation lead to reconciliation between the parties?

    While anything is possible when you open up new lines of communication, don’t count on it. By the tie parties seek divorce mediation reconciliation seldom, if ever, happens.

  • What happens when one party wants a male mediator, but the other party wants a female mediator?

    It makes absolutely no difference whether your mediator is male or female. Your mediator will be neutral, friendly, non-judgmental and hold all information in strictest confidence. However when emotions are running high, some parties have difficulty with gender-bias. In these cases we will provide both a male and female mediator to co-mediate your sessions.

  • Does it cost more to have more mediators?

    Yes, but it is certainly not twice as expensive. We have a set rate for co-mediators which clients find surprisingly reasonable.

Environmental

  • What does mediation have to do with environment?

    We are of the strong opinion that any dispute can be mediated, including ones pertaining to environmental issues. Here are two examples:

    Several hydroelectric facilities were up for re-licensing. At issue was balancing ecological populations with the need for hydropower production. Municipal vs. agricultural uses for water resources were also being contested. Other issues included water rights for water disctricts, 100-year-old water rights applicants, a recent energy crisis, lack of reliable historical data and a drought. Concerns were addressed and a settlement was reached using ADR. This allowed the licensee to file its proposed terms and conditions of the project without any protest.

    Another case involved PCB contamination that created high public concern. Mediation was used to address four major areas: the company liability and responsibility for clean-up; input from the community on impacts of the clean-up process; the establishment of a panel of neutral experts to make recommendations for future re-mediation; and finally, agreement to use mediation in the near future to resolve disputes.

    Many of these issues can be dealth with more effectively when all appropriate stakeholdlers practicipate jointly in the process. Many problems of ignorance or omission can be thereby avoided. In addition, "one size fits all" regulatory approaches may fail to take into consideration important local needs and aspirations that can be included in the mediation process.

  • Can mediation be used instead of regulatory processes?

    No. Most regulatory agencies are quasi-judicial bodies and all parties must adhere to regulatory requirements. However, if the issues between all stakeholders and interveners have been mediated, the regulatory process is faster, less expensive and less confrontational. It is important to formulate a step by step process that relies on similar procedures and strategies common to other mediation processes, and for the mediator to be prepared to serve in facilitation and coordination roles allow the process to move forward effectively.

General

  • What is mediation?

    Mediation is an informal and non-adversarial Dispute resolution process that helps people identify issues, clarify misunderstandings, explore solutions and negotiate agreements. There are no losers in mediation. There is no judge or jury. There is no right or wrong, and there are no counselors or people giving you advice. There are only avenuse to finding reconciliation between disputing parties through the skills of a trained mediator.

  • What are the benefits of mediation?

    There are many benefits. By far the most important is that, in mediation, the parties arrive at their own agreement acceptable to both sides. There is no “right” or “wrong”. There is no loser in the dispute, as neither side loses control. The mediation process protects the integrity of those in dispute and enhances the possibility of a workable future relationship.

    By contrast, in a litigated divorce (or other lawsuit), a judge decides all contested issues according to standard legal criteria that may not meet the needs of the parties. In short, once it is in the courts you no longer have any control of the outcome. One, or both, parties are going to lose. If they must continue to associate with each other, that association will likely be confrontational and highly unpleasant.

    Mediation is confidential. Mediation is typically faster and much less expensive than adversarial or litigated disputes. Agreements reached through mediation tend to last over time because the people affected by the decisions are the ones making them. When parties reach their own agreement, they avoid unpredictable solutions that often result from the adversarial process. Mediation does not dwell in the past, but looks to the future, creating a positive environment for parties to relate to each other on a go-forward basis.

  • When is the best time for mediation?

    Ideally, the sooner the better, before parties incur the expense and emotional turmoil of litigation. Parties often think mediation isn’t necessary until things suddenly escalate and, before you know it, they are going to court. If you are already in litigation, it’s still not too late. Many cases settle out of court or just before trial. Therefore it’s never too late to mediate.

  • How do I start the mediation process?

    Once all parties have agreed to mediation, we will send you a “Preparation Kit”. The kit includes a detailed explanation of the mediation process, an Agreement to Mediate for you to sign and information sheets for you to explain your dispute. Once you have returned these sheets to us, we will contact you to verify information and set a mediation date.

    Both parties must consent to mediation. Often one party is ready to mediate before the other, so it may take a little coordinating prior to the actual mediation date.

  • Did you know?

    The mediation process we follow is the same process that ended the Iranian hostage crisis, the Atlanta federal prison riot, and the Polish general labor strike.

  • How many sessions are needed to reach an agreement?

    That will depend on the compexity of the issues, the level of conflict, and the willingness of both parties to settle. Some disputes require several sessions to arrive at an agreement both parties can live with. However if both parties are thorough in providing all relevant information and come in good faith, many disputes can be resolved in a single session.

    Divorces can sometimes be more complicated and intense, requiring two to four sessions. Still, many divorces can also be settled in a single session.

  • How long is each mediation session?

    The average length of a mediatio session is 3-5 hours, although there is no set rule. We find that after 5 hours people start getting fatigued, in which case it is wise to stop and set a time for another session. However, if progress is being made and everyone’s schedule permits, it is not uncommon to extend the session and work right through to a successful agreement.

  • Should I bring a lawyer to mediation?

    All parties should consult with lawyers at the beginning of mediation and near the end, before signing any settlement memorandum. Whether you bring your lawyer, your union representative or someone else for support is strictly up to you. But you must inform the mediator and the other part in advance, of who else will be attending. People not scheduled to attend will not be permitting into the mediation session without the consent of the other party.

  • I’m a very busy person. Can we possibly do this by E-mail?

    It’s possible, but not generally recommended. E-mail generally takes much longer and is more expensive. It is more cumbersom to read, type, send, wait, etc. In some cases, where disputing parties live a great distance apart or in cases of international negotiations, virtual or real-time technologies can be very effective.

    We have state-of-the-art communication technologies for multi-party simultaneous communication, ranging from highly advanced computer communication, to teleconferencing, to videoconferences, to combining more than one of these technologies. Although these options are infinitely better and preferred by many businesses and some individuals, they are more expensive and must be learned by all parties in advance in order to use them. Generally, the most expedient and cost-effective way is to conduct mediations in person.

  • In mediation, can you guarantee a settlement?

    The only ones who can resolve a dispute are the parties themselves. If either or both of the parties come in bad faith, do not fully disclose the facts, arrive unprepared or truly want their "day in court" then an agreement is highly unlikely. The quality of a mediator is not based upon how many clients were able to agree. Rather, it is whether the mediator maintained confidentiality, provided a friendly and neutral environment for negotiations, followed the facilitative mediation process, gave the parties every opportunity to resolve their dispute and did not attempt to coerce one party or the other into an agreement he or she was not comfortable with.

    In fact, when selecting a mediator, you may want to be cautious of mediators who boast a really high percentage of agreements reached. It could be an indication of other possible issues.

Online Mediation

  • Tell me more about on-line mediation.

    On-line mediation may be of particular interest to you if your business is online, if the parties are a great distance from each other, or if the issue involves multiple parties. Some mediators mediate through the use of email or private on-line discussion rooms. We discourage this approach in favor of new technologies incorporating the use of teleconferencing packages that incorporate special negotiation tools adapted to on-line use.

  • Isn’t this more expensive?

    Yes. By far the best way to mediate a dispute is in person, even if it means making arrangements to travel some distance. Not only does it save time, but you also have the personal interaction with the other parties and the mediator. However there are many times and many situations where this simply is not possible. This is when we look at the other alternativees.

    Mediating through email is our least preferred on-line mediation process. First, it takes a lot of time to type everything to be stated and discussed. Secondly, there is no direct interaction. Then there are matters of faxing or scanning documents and waiting for everyone to receive hs or her copies, verifying authenticity, re-faxing and re-scanning if changes are made to draft agreements, and so on. It can certainly be done, but it is time consuming and ultimately quite expensive.

  • What is your new on-line technology?

    The Negotiators work with several highly advanced communications companies that offer exceptional pre-packaged on-line conferencing services. All each party has to do is have a telephone near his or her computer. We do the rest. Discussion is live, information is transmitted instantaneously to all parties, and each party is identified by a particular color for e-mail or typed correspondence. Messages can be sent to all parties, or you may choose to type a pricate message to only one or two of the participants... all while discussions continue. These are just a few of the services provided.

Sexual Harassment

  • What about really personal issues like sexual harassment?

    These days there are more rules, regulations, and laws dealing with sexual discrimination and sexual harassment, than any other employment issue. Sexual harassment lawsuits now show no sign of letting up. In fact, they are still increasing. What was once considered to be acceptable behavior may well be construed as sexual harassment.

    Harassment is often a matter of miscommunication, someone being unaware, different personalities or cultural expectations. Even when the harassment is intentional, with proper mediation, it can usually be stopped in a satisfactory manner.

  • So how does mediation end sexual harassment without somebody getting hurt, offended or punished?

    Regardless of what else, the complainant’s first priority is for the offending behavior to stop. The first option is usually to speak directly to the other party. However for various reasons that may not always be an option, in fact, it may have made things even worse. So the complainant may only see two choices: go through the process of a formal complaint and investigation, or do nothing.

    Mediation can provide a safe, non-judgmental and neutral environment setting in which the complainant can accomplish the primary aim of stopping the behavior. As mediation is totally confidential, absolutely no one else will know the specifics of the understanding that was reached.

Teenager

  • Our teenage daughter comes home late, hangs around with a different crowd now, and totally resists any parental control. We fear the worst. Can mediation help?

    Managing teenagers can be a full time job for a lot of us. If you feel your particular relationship is spiralling out of control, mediation can hep. It can help you rise above your stress and worry, and for your teen break the cycle of resentment toward what is perceived as your condescending and controlling actions.

    You want to have your daughter thinking about her behavior, not yours; and that’s where mediation comes in. First, you show respect when you put her side of the issue on par with yours, by engaging a third party neutral. Second, you demonstrate to your teen that you will use appropriate strategies with her well-being in mind, as opposed to them feeling your are just trying to e xert your will or control over them through discipline or coercion.

  • Do you work with school counselors to help correct children’s behavior?

    No. Mediators are not counselors. We do not give advice or try to change anyone. We help disputing parties arrive at mutually acceptable resolutions to their issues and, whether children or not, we treat all parties equally.

  • Do you mediate in matters concerning special education?

    Yes, some of our mediators are trained special education mediators.

Meet The Negotiators

Meet The Negotiators

Our team of licensed negotiators, arbitrators, and mediators are also trained facilitators and project managers

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Contact The Negotiators

Contact The Negotiators

We’re here to help you manage and prevent conflict. Contact us today!

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Resources

Resources

Read our Blog or browse our extensive FAQs for insights and expertise on Alternative Dispute Resolution

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Services

Dispute Resolution Panels

Dispute Resolution Panels

This dispute resolution process has been around forever in specific industries and is sort of a cross between mediation and arbitration. We’ve adapted this technique to domestic, civil and workplace disputes with great success.

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Conflict Management Training

Conflict Management Training

Whether it is family strife, wrongful dismissal, sexual harassment, bullying, condo boards, or any other personal or professional dispute - our first job is to resolve conflict and teach others how to resolve conflict.

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Reconciliation

Reconciliation

Embattled couples or business partners sometimes seek help reconciling. Once the primary dispute is resolved between two parties, there is often a desire to reconcile the rest of their problems and re-establish former relationships.

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