Mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution that is encouraged by the Courts, particularly in family law matters. A mediator is a neutral third party whose goal is to support the parties in a discussion about their conflict. Through the mediation process, it is hoped that the parties might develop a better understanding of their own and the other party's concerns and perspectives, and as a result, perhaps reach a resolution of their conflict without court intervention or litigation.
Participants are solely responsible for making decisions during the mediation process. There are many types of decisions that participants may make, including whether or not to pursue mediation, what topics are discussed, who should be involved in the discussion, how to explore additional information, what options are preferable, whether or not decisions are written, and so on.
It should be. The mediator should not make decisions for the participants or make any judgments of who is right or wrong. The mediator does not have a stake in any particular outcome and therefore, should treat all participants in a fair and balanced way. The main goal of the mediator should be to help create an environment for the parties to make voluntary and informed decisions. Not all mediators are the same, and there are many philosophical approaches to mediation. Anyone interested in mediation as a means of dispute resolution should request an initial consultation with the mediator to ensure he or she is a good fit for the parties.
Bonnie Westlin has been a qualified neutral under Rule 114 of the Minnesota Rules of General practice for family mediation since 2004. She is fully committed to supporting the decision-making of the parties with respect to all aspects of their dispute. Her mediation training has emphasized the transformative approach.