If the mediation is planned to be completed all in one session, the session begins at 9:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. on the chosen day and is scheduled for a minimum of four hours. Attorneys are welcomed but not required. The parties usually start out in a joint session with the mediator making an opening statement as required by law.
Next, each party is given the opportunity to tell his story, give his priorities for the mediation and generally ventilate the frustration and pain that has brought him/her to this point. Having done over 1000 mediations and having gone through a divorce myself, I can empathize with the parties. I know that before the parties can deal with the child issues, and the details of 401 K’s, mortgages, and equities, they must begin to address the emotional pain. It is like being bitten by a rattlesnake, you must suck the poison out first before you move on to other things.
Almost everyone’s story includes the fundamental feelings that, “I am the good guy and the other guy is the bad guy”. This story needs to be told and heard by the other party and can be communicated safely under the guidance of the mediator.
After each has had the opportunity to speak, to tell his story, to ventilate, to unload some pain, it is time to move forward. The mediator will then invite the parties to begin to plan the future.
The mediator will then lead a discussion of one issue usually until a consensus has been reached on that issue. Then the next issue is addressed. The issues are worked through with breaks taken at any time someone needs one.
In over 26 years of practice, the parties have never failed to reach an agreed settlement.