Mediation is a process in which a neutral third person, the mediator, helps individuals find ways to work together in resolving the issues that cause disagreements. Unlike a court hearing which is open to the public, your mediation session is confidential. That means parties may speak freely and honestly in their efforts to resolve conflicts, without having to testify in a court hearing. Contested court hearings often cause stress and hard feelings for the parties and their children. Mediation is an opportunity to avoid contested proceedings and resolve differences quickly and effectively.
A mediator is not a judge or decision maker, but may offer suggestions, clarify misunderstandings, diffuse anger, and encourage the parties to reach an agreement. In mediation, the parties are the decision-makers.
Generally, parties are in separate rooms and the mediator speaks to each party privately. If you have an attorney present at mediation, your attorney will be in the room with you. You may also choose to bring a trusted friend or family member for assistance and support.
If an agreement is reached, the mediator will prepare the agreement, both parties will sign at the conclusion of the mediation session, and the mediator will file the agreement with the court. A filed copy of your agreement will then be sent by the mediator to your attorney, or directly to you if you are not represented by an attorney. If an agreement is not reached, the parties will have to request a court hearing, and the Judge will decide the outcome of your case.
Gibson County has a mediation assistance fund. If your annual income is less than $35,000 per year, you may qualify to have some or all of your mediation session paid for by the court.