One of the best services we offer for helping you resolve your dispute is mediation. Mediation is a confidential meeting process facilitated by a professional mediator who helps people work together to resolve disagreements and find mutual and satisfying solutions. Mediation is not about deciding who is right or wrong but is a process that helps you communicate the issues, look at the problems from different points of view, think creatively about solutions, and come to agreements that you feel good about and are willing to uphold.
Our mediation style
There are several styles of mediation and the DRC uses a style called facilitative, interest-based mediation. This style is effective for most types of disputes and is particularly helpful for disputes involving long-term relationships such as business partners, neighbors, separating spouses with children, co-workers, internal families, and departments in organizations.
Working with attorneys
If you choose the facilitative style of mediation it may still be beneficial to consult an attorney about your legal rights. The DRC does not give legal advice or advocate for either client but is happy to refer you to a list of mediation-friendly attorneys who can advise you before, during or after the mediation. You can also find a low-cost attorney by contacting the King County Bar Association. In some cases, attorneys can be present during the mediation as a resource for their clients, however, it is usually more productive in this style of mediation for the clients to speak on their own behalf and make their own decisions.
What to expect during your mediation
The DRC will choose the best professional mediation team for your case based on the information we gather beforehand. The mediators will facilitate a structured dialogue that guides you through a step-by-step process to find a solution that works best for both parties. They will ensure that the process is respectful, safe, balanced and fair. Many disputes can be resolved in just one three-hour session but family disputes may take additional sessions. If additional sessions are needed, they are scheduled at the end of the first session.
Once your meditation meeting date is set the DRC will send you a reminder letter with preparation instructions. When your arrive at the office you’ll check in at the front desk and pay for your mediation session or you can pay in advance using our on-line system. The mediators will look for you in the waiting room when they are ready to begin.
- When you enter the meeting room you’ll sit at the table with the other party in your dispute and the mediators. There may be two student observers in the back of the room.
- A mediator will open the conversation by explaining the process, the confidential nature of the meeting, and the exceptions to confidentiality. The mediator will go over the Agreement to Mediate which everyone will then sign.
- Then each party will take some time to explain their perspective while the other party listens quietly. The mediator will ensure that she/he is clear on the underlying issues motivating the dispute by asking additional questions and summarizing the issues.
- The mediator will then construct an outline or agenda to identify the issues for discussion.
- Issues are then discussed with the goal of understanding different perspectives, hearing new information, finding common ground, and finally finding a solution acceptable to everyone involved.
- It may be helpful for the mediator to have a private caucus with each participant. The private meetings may last 15-20 minutes each then all parties will gather again to finish the joint meeting.
- If agreements are reached, they are recorded in a contract format with the details of the implementation spelled out. The parties sign the mediation agreement and copies are made for everyone. Mediation agreements are durable in a court of law. To learn more check our frequently asked questions FAQ page.