The following points are not all-encompassing when considering your dispute and the mediation process. They are a good starting point. If you understand and adhere to these, the mediation will be more successful. If you have procedural questions, Judy West invites you inquiries, comments, and questions.
1. File for Mediation
Any dispute may be submitted for mediation. If mediation is required by a signed contract or by a legal requirement, the process may be started by downloading a Mediation Submission Agreement along with the necessary Mediation Fee Agreement. These completed forms should be faxed or mailed to Colorado Mediators & Arbitrators, and a copy of the same paperwork (credit card information excepted) should be served on the Responding Party in a way that can be demonstrated: certified mail, email with return receipt request, or process service.
2. Response to the Filing
The Responding Party's response is due within ten (10) days of service of the mediation submission agreement. The response by be filed by completing a Response to Mediation Filing or by signing an agreement to mediate. If no response is received after providing proof of service by the Initiating Party to the Responding Party, or if the Responding Party declines mediation, Judy West, Denver Mediator shall provide the Initiating Party with a Letter of Non-Response indicating the date the case was filed and any subsequent efforts taken to bring the matter to mediation. This letter may be presented to the court or an arbitrator to demonstrate the Initiating Party's compliance with the mediation requirement.
3. Prepare for Mediation
Bring to mediation a copy of all documents that will be referred to. Documents include the original contract; any emails or letters between the parties; objective research to demonstrate your position from websites, books, academic or professional sources, contractor's bids to correct or complete work that is subject to breach of contract. If the mediation addresses divorce agreements, Judy West will identify those documents that are necessary for the first session, and homework will be assigned inbetween session. The better prepared walking in to mediation, the better the odds at resolving the matter. It never helps negotiations to refer to a document that you know you have on your desk at home or in a file at the office. The document is needed at the mediation when the parties are in attendence.
4. Expect Resolution, Be Aware of Your Options
Determine ahead of time what your priority is in settling the matter. Think about what you are willing to give up in order to get what you want the most. No one gets all the goodies; you have to take a little and give a little. Think about what you will do if you are not able to settle. Will you file in court and litigate? Do you have another alternative available? One of the most well-known books on negotiation is Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by co-authors Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, Bruce Patton. They refer to BATNA = Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. If you have good alternates available to a negotiated settlement, you will be more confident in your negotiations in mediation.
5. Decision-Maker Must Attend
Don't come to mediation without the authority to settle. The decision-maker is needed at the negotiation table. If you need your spouse, your boss, or another partner in the deal, that person needs to be in attendence. Often the best deal is the one that is on the table in the mediation. Once that moment is past, your social circle of "supporters" can be counted on to convincingly state that you could have done better. This is said in support of you, their friend. Whether or not it is realistic is a whole other ballgame. You need to be prepared to sign on the dotted line when you attend mediation.
6. Information is Power
Do you have a good understanding of the merits of your position? Are you aware of the costs involved to go to court? You may benefit from speaking with an attorney about the case prior to mediation. Also know that in any given case, at any given time, you might have a judge or magistrate who sees your case from a very different perspective than you. What you just "know" is a slam dunk may turn out to be a complete loss if the court rules against you. You may have to pay not only your costs but also the attorney costs and court fees to the one who prevails against you in court. With this in mind, it is easy to see why mediation allows the parties the most control over the private family, business, and real estate disputes with the added benefit of privacy. No one relishes the idea of having their battle detailed in a local popular magazine, or online, or on the nightly news. The court's decision is of public record. Mediation is confidential.