- What is mediation?
- Why choose mediation?
- Is mediation effective?
- What happens during mediation?
- What is included in a Mediated Agreement? Are they enforceable?
- What is we don’t reach an agreement?
- Do both parties need to appear in court for mediation to occur?
- Will the mediator(s) give me legal advice?
- What are the procedures for seeking mediation in my court?
- What happens if the Judge refers us to mediation, but one or both of us choose not to proceed with the process?
- What is I would like to mediate in a court not listed above?
1. What is mediation?
Mediation is a collaborative process for resolving disputes. Conflicting parties are assisted by a neutral third party (the mediator) in finding mutually agreeable solutions.
2. Why choose mediation?
- In mediation, you choose the outcome of your case rather have the Judge decide for you. You have the flexibility to negotiate for money, goods, services, or anything else you would like to include in your agreements. You may also negotiate payment plans.
- You have none of these options through litigation, and often parties walk away frustrated, even if they win. In mediation, no agreement is made, unless you are happy with the agreement.
- For Plaintiffs: Winning a judgement does not guarantee payment. You must pursue a lengthy and complicated collections process through the court. With mediation, you can make payment arrangements that will allow you to collect in a way that is convenient for you.
- For Defendants: Court judgements show up on your credit report and make affect your financial future. Mediation agreements do not show up on credit reports.
(link to mediation vs. litigation chart)
Is mediation effective?
- Court mediation results in agreements for approximately 65-70% of the cases. Those who do not reach agreement still benefit, because they better understand their case and tend to be more prepared for trial.
3. What happens during mediation?
- You and the other party in your case meet with a neutral, certified mediator with the goal of coming up with a satisfactory solution for both parties regarding the issues in the case.
- Everyone has ample opportunity to talk from their perspective. During this conversation, the mediator helps to identify the primary issues involved and to assist you in forming a plan to resolve these issues. Once parties are in agreement on a resolution, the mediator will write up the terms in a Mediated Agreement for all parties to sign.
4. What is included in a Mediated Agreement? Are they enforceable?
Mediated Agreements may include monetary compensation, payment plans, exchanges of goods/services, and other provisions that parties deem appropriate. Once satisfied with the terms, all parties and the mediator sign the agreement. The agreement is given to the Judge for his/her review and signature before being added to the court record.
On the rare instance when one or both parties fail to comply the terms of the agreement, parties may return to court for an official ruling from the Judge. The agreement is seen as a contract by the courts.
5. What if we don’t reach an agreement?
If you are unable to reach an agreement, all parties will return to the courtroom to await trial. The trial still occurs the same day. Because of confidentiality, the Judge will not be able to hear about anything that was discussed in the mediation session from the parties or the mediator.
6. Do both parties need to appear in court for mediation to occur?
Mediation requires the participation of all the primary parties with decision-making authority in the case.
7. Will the mediator(s) give me legal advice?
You are welcome to consult with legal counsel at any point in the mediation process, if you have questions about your legal rights. Your attorney may also be present during a mediation session, if you prefer.
8. What are the procedures for seeking mediation in my court?
- You may approach the mediator to request mediation. He/She will wear a “Mediator” badge with the NVMS name and logo. Mediators typically sit in the front row of benches in the courtroom.
- During the first docket call, the Judge may suggest or refer your case to No. The Commonwealth of Virginia strictly forbids mediators from giving legal advice to parties in mediation while acting as the mediator. This supports neutrality and fairness in the facilitation of your case.
- If he/she does not, you may request mediation during this time.
- In Fairfax Small Claims Court, a Mediation Coordinator will give an introduction before the 9:30am court starting time. You may request mediation from the coordinator at this time.
- Remember, mediation is voluntary. All parties must be present and willing to participate in order to move forward.
9. What happens if the Judge refers us to mediation, but one or both of us choose not to proceed with the process?
When a Judge refers you to mediation, you are required to attend only the orientation portion of the session, in which the mediator describes the process. If you are not interested in pursuing mediation after the orientation, you may opt out.
10. What if I would like to mediate in a court not listed above
Please visit the Community Mediation (link) page of our website for more information on scheduling a mediation outside the court setting.