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Frequently Asked Questions

What is mediation?
Mediation is a process for people to have face-to-face conversations about the issues important to them. Mediators are impartial and will not make decisions for you. They help people in conflict communicate and support their own decision-making. Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process.

How is mediation different than arbitration?
A core value of mediation is party self-determination. Mediation Center mediators facilitate the conversation between parties so that they can make decisions that are important to them. Arbitration is a quasi-judicial process where the arbitrator hears the evidence from both sides and makes a binding decision.

How can someone request mediation?
One party contacts the Center and confidentially talks with Center staff about the conflict. Staff can contact the other party or the caller can talk with the other party and ask him/her to call the Mediation Center. (exception is Divorce mediation; each party must make a consultation appointment).

What happens if one party refuses to mediate?
Mediation is voluntary and a session can only be scheduled if both parties agree. The Center respects the decision of each party in choosing whether mediation is right for him/her.

Is a mediation agreement binding?
A mediation agreement is binding and enforceable when it is part of a court order. The parties decide whether they wish to submit an agreement to court.

What about confidentiality?
All communication during intake and in a mediation session is confidential except in cases of child abuse or the abuse of a vulnerable adult. Mediators cannot disclose what is said in mediation except in de-briefing with staff. This confidentiality extends to referral sources too. The Mediation Center will only disclose if mediation was held or not held. If no mediation was held, the Center will not disclose why the session was not held, including the refusal by each or both parties. In keeping with confidentiality, the Center does not provide letters to either party indicating the willingness or refusal of either or both to attend mediation.

Will mediators give suggestions as to how we can resolve our conflict?
The mediator's primary role is to assist the parties in their discussion, so they are able to hear each other and decide how they wish to address the conflict. Most mediators do not offers suggestions, although some do in the form of options. Ultimately, it is the parties’ decision as to what is best for their situation. The mediators facilitate that discovery.

Do I need a case pending in court to request mediation?
No. Anyone can call the Center to request mediation.

What types of conflicts can be addressed in mediation?
Most conflicts can be addressed in mediation. Some examples are elders and their adult children about property or caregiving, divorcing couples, landlords and tenants about security deposits or other issues, dissolution of business partnerships, parents and schools about a child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), grandparents raising grandchildren, neighborhood disputes, farmer and lender or farm family issues, and employees and supervisors.

Can youth request mediation?
Yes.

"We've tried to talk already. Why should we mediate?"
Some people find it helpful to have a mediator present who is impartial and trained to help people have conversation. Sometimes things change as a result of a mediated conversation.

How much does mediation cost?
Some programs are offered at no cost, some are based on a sliding fee scale, and others are charged by the hour. Please call the Center for specific information on fees.