Q: Can the mediators disclose what’s discussed in mediation to an outside party?
A: No. Mediation is a confidential process and all parties enter into mediation with the expectation that the process is confidential. Mediators are expected to protect and preserve the confidentiality of the parties’ identities and content of the session, subject to California Evidence Code Section 1119.

Q: If an agreement is made in mediation and a party breaks the agreement, can there be a follow-up mediation?  
A: Yes, if the other party is willing. Mediation is a voluntary process as well as a supplement to existing formal grievance processes. Parties can choose to resolve grievances or disputes through formal channels.

Q: If I am interested in participating in mediation how does the process work?  
A: If mediation is chosen to resolve a dispute, all relevant parties will be contacted individually by our office to discuss in confidence the issues and concerns to be addressed in the mediation session. During this time we will also ask each party to provide possible dates and times for the mediation. During the pre-mediation stage, as well as the mediation process, everything discussed and disclosed will be kept in strict confidence and will not be shared with other parties in the dispute without permission.

Q: What if the other party doesn’t want to participate in mediation?
A: The mediation process is voluntary. The process works best when all parties come in good faith. Mediation will only be conducted if all parties agree to participate.

Q: How much do mediation services cost?                                                                A: In accordance with the Dispute Resolution Program Act, fees for our mediation services are assessed on a sliding scale basis, according to income and financial need.  Our commitment is to the service of all community members, regardless of ability to pay.

Q: How long does mediation take?
A: Most cases are settled in a few hours. Others may require additional time, depending on the complexity of the issues.

Q: As mediation is nonbinding, is the settlement enforceable?
A: Yes. A signed settlement agreement is as enforceable as any other contractual agreement.

Q: What type of cases can be mediated?
A: Most civil (noncriminal) disputes can be mediated, including those involving contracts, leases, small business ownership, employment, and divorce. For example, a divorcing couple might mediate to work out a mutually agreeable child custody agreement, or estranged business partners might choose mediation to work out an agreement to divide their business. Nonviolent criminal matters, such as claims of verbal or other personal harassment, can also be successfully mediated. You may want to consider mediation if you get into a scrape with a neighbor, roommate, spouse, partner, or co-worker. Mediation can be particularly useful in these areas because it is designed to identify and cope with divisive interpersonal issues not originally thought to be part of the disputeContact our office if you want to know if we can mediate your dispute.

Q: If I choose mediation, will I still need a lawyer?
A: In most mediations, you won’t need a lawyer right there with you. This is because the parties are trying to work together to solve their problem — not trying to convince a judge or arbitrator of their point of view — and because mediation rules are few and straightforward. If your case involves substantial property or legal rights, however, you may want to consult with a lawyer before the mediation to discuss the legal consequences of possible settlement terms. Mediators cannot offer legal advice.

Q: What can I expect when I attend mediation?
A: When you arrive at the mediation location, which is noted on your confirmation letter, you will be in a room with up to two mediators, the other party, and yourself.

-The mediators will read the ground rules and review the confidentiality agreement. All parties must sign the confidentiality agreement before the session may proceed. If either party refuses to sign the confidentiality agreement, then the session will not continue and it will be noted who refused to sign. This will then be sent back to the program coordinator to keep on file. If all parties do sign, then the mediation can begin.

-The mediators will begin by asking one of the parties to explain the situation from their side without interruption. Then, the other side will be given this same opportunity.

-Through this process the mediators will work with both parties to hopefully find common ground. If it can be met, then the mediators will write up an agreement for both parties to sign.

-Not every mediation ends in an agreement. Do not feel forced to sign something you are not comfortable with, but keep in mind it will be your role to define what you are wanting. Most importantly, know that virtually all mediations require some level of compromise on behalf of each party and that a cooperative nature on both sides is the cornerstone of success.

Q: Can I bring a friend along?
A: No. Because mediations are confidential, the integrity of the process is protected.

Q: Where do the mediations take place?
A: Mediations take place in conference rooms located at our office in Camarillo.

Q: Can I Use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) after a Lawsuit Is Filed?
A: Yes. If you and the other person decide you would like to resolve your dispute either before or after a lawsuit is filed, you may still try alternative dispute resolution. In fact, most lawsuits filed in court are settled before the trial begins, and the people who take their problems to mediation report a higher rate of satisfaction with the process and the results.