Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process that can be used to resolve problems between individuals or groups. In this process, an impartial person referred to as a mediator helps facilitate communication between people. During the session, the mediator helps those involved discuss the problem, identify the real issues, and explore options to create a voluntary, mutually acceptable solution.
Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process in which a trained and unbiased third party assists people in conflict to reach an agreement on the issues that brought them to court. Mediators do not give advice or determine who is “right” or “wrong,” but rather help parties worktogether to resolve the problem in a way that works for both of them. Mediators work to help parties find solutions that can at least partially satisfy both their needs. If parties come to agreement, the mediator helps write the terms in a document for the judge to review.If the judge approves the agreement, an order will issue from the court. Parties will be given a copy of the agreement. Parties who do not reach agreement in mediation will return to court for trial.
The Center for Mediation & Collaboration of Rhode Island (CMCRI) provides mediators as an alternative to going to trial for small claims cases in the District Court
Mediators are trained and supervised by the CMCRI. They are not employees of the court anddo not have any authority over the disputing parties, or the authority to decide the outcome of the case. Mediators are not allowed to give legal advice. Therefore, participants are free to seek legal counsel at any time during the process if they feel it is necessary. Mediators provides process where everyone has a chance to be heard. Parties are encouraged to address all of the issues that they feel need to be discussed and resolved.
- Mediation offers an efficient and timely way of resolving disputes
- Mediation in the District Court is provided at no cost to either party.
- Mediation is conducted in a less formal, more relaxed atmosphere which is betterfor coming to an agreement.
- Often when disputes come to court, tensions are high and there is an adversarial approach. Mediation allows individuals to not only resolve the dispute that brought them to court, but also helps them to start to move forward in their relationship.
- When a case goes to trial, usually either the plaintiff or the defendant (or sometimes both parties) are unhappy with the outcome. Mediation allows parties to create their own solution to the problem and to make realistic provisions in the agreement for how the terms settled upon will be paid or satisfied.
In District Court, about 80% of cases reach agreement when mediators work with parties. In post-mediation surveys, both the plaintiff and the defendant indicate a high level of satisfaction with the mediation process and the quality of services provided by the CMCRI mediators.
When you are in court and your case is called by the judicial officer, you may request or you may be asked to consider the alternative of mediation. Mediation is voluntary,which means that you can decide to end the mediation at any point if you feel it is not productive.
Work teams sometimes need help! Conflict related to hybrid or remote work environments, personality differences or lack of effective communication can make things uncomfortable for everyone. Mediation can help employees and supervisors come to a resolution for a fraction of the cost of a litigated settlement. We also partner with human resources departments to develop systems and conduct training on conflict management and communication in the workplace. Our trained mediators can also support employers who are working on ways to create a cooperative workplace environment. Fees are charged at an hourly rate.
Now as never before, conflict is everywhere in our lives. Isolation and frustration sometimes leads to anger and resentment. When conflicts arise in families and neighborhoods, or with a vendors or others, mediation can offer a cost-effective way to come to a resolution. In mediation, individuals work together with a mediator in a confidential setting to work through the conflict. Fees are charged on an income-based sliding scale.
Mediation is a form of dispute resolution that encourages the individuals involved in the dispute to talk with each other and resolve their differences. The mediator helps the parties communicate but has no independent decision-making authority.
In mediation, the parties can:
- Informally communicate their thoughts and concerns.
- Identify and clarify miscommunication and misunderstandings.
- Acknowledge that there may be differences of perspective or opinion.
- Better understand the origins of the dispute.
- Share their respective interests.
- Examine ways to address dissatisfaction and unmet expectations that may have occurred.
- Develop improved communication and restore relationships.
- Collaborate on ways to manage future conflicts and prevent additional disputes from arising.
- Retain the right to pursue the matter through another process such as the EEO complaint process, negotiated or administrative grievance procedure, or litigation, if an agreement cannot be reached.
Mediation is not a determination of who is right and wrong, and the mediator is not a judge, factfinder, or decision-maker. Mediators do not give legal advice. Choosing to mediate does not preclude you from your right to try other options such as litigation or arbitration.
Mediation is recommended when:
- There is interest in resolving the dispute quickly.
- There is a need for a private setting to discuss the issues.
- People want someone not involved in the dispute to facilitate their communication.
- People want to either preserve their relationship or end the relationship in the least adversarial way.
- The parties are interested in retaining control of the outcome.
Mediation is NOT recommended when:
- People want someone to determine who is right and who is wrong.
- The dispute involves restraining orders, fraud, abuse, criminal activity, or allegations of sexual harassment.
Before You Come To Mediation
- Determine what you want to get out of mediation
Our experience shows that parties in dispute often do not reveal right away what they really want. Very often parties are stuck on legal restrictions (e.g. money, due dates, etc.), although the conflict has arisen from somewhere else (e.g. a disturbed relationship, a financial shortage, etc.). Think about all aspects that need to be addressed during the mediation and how you could share them with the other party, so that they get a chance to understand your perspective. This includes bringing all documents you might want to share with the other party.
- Settle emotions
Especially in long-lasting conflicts, emotions become easily heated. As understandable as that is, it makes it more difficult to discuss the matter in a productive way. Listening to and empathizing with the other party helps those involved better understand opposing perspectives.
- Be prepared and look forward
Mediation is a process to move forward and find a solution that works for both parties. For that reason, it is important to focus on the future and not to make assumptions based on the past. So far you have not been able to solve the conflict. Be open to trying a new approach – mediation reveals the real interests of both parties and it can be very effective. There is a great chance that a mutual solution is found instead of getting stuck in positions.
- Just sit down, relax, and let us help you
Our mediators are all trained and experienced in mediation. They will guide you through the entire process and provide a convenient and productive atmosphere for everyone.