Mediation Frequently Asked Questions

What is a mediator?
A mediator is a neutral third party trained in facilitating communication so parties can make decisions and resolve disputes in confidence.
Why would someone with a dispute want to mediate instead of going to court?
Most folks who walk into a courtroom believe they will prevail but usually at least one party ends up feeling defeated and relationships are compromised. Judgments issued by the court are made by masters or judges who have no personal involvement in the case and their decision is binding. In Mediation, parties work towards a resolution they can both live with often including terms that would not be considered in court. Courts only consider legal issues while mediation can address more personal, underlying issues important to parties. Additionally, litigation generally takes longer and costs more than mediation.
What kinds of agreements can be mediated that cannot be decided in court?
  • Susan apologizes to her co-parent, Dave. Dave agrees to forgive Susan.
  • Parties agree to continue working together but from now on all transactions will be detailed in writing in advance.
  • Parties Agree to disagree about the issue that brought them here today and resolve not to bring it up again.
  • Joy, the caterer agrees to credit Jon, $300 towards future catering services. Jon agrees not to pursue his small claims complaint against Joy.
  • Parties agree they have a new understanding for each other's interest and mutually agree that the issue is resolved.
  • Joe agrees to repaint Gloria's hallway. Gloria agrees not to post a negative review about Joe online.
  • Bob acknowledges that he is in arrears on his rent. Larry Landlord agrees to accept 3 month's of Bob's snow removal services in exchange for one month's rent.
  • Can folks still opt for legal advice or representation when mediating?
    Sure. Parties are encouraged to have an attorney review agreements before signing or even have them attend the mediation if they would like.
    What cases would not be appropriate for mediation?
    In its purest form, mediation is future focused and voluntary. It is based on the premise that parties will participate in good faith to reach a resolution or decision together. Folks who are not invested in the process or cannot move forward from the past are not good candidates for mediation.
    How does mediation work?
    The Mediator speaks individually with each party to determine what they hope to accomplish through mediation and how the mediator can help with that goal. Are they comfortable meeting in the same room? Do they have difficulty expressing themselves in front of the other party? What issues, if any, should the mediator steer clear of? During this communication, the mediator is also inquiring about the dynamics between the parties and any risk factors that could mitigate one's safety or their ability to participate in the mediation process to the best of their ability.
    From there, the mediator facilitates healthy and clear communication between the parties ensuring that each says what they need to say and hears what they need to hear. The mediator is responsible for making sure that the communication between parties is as productive, as future focused, and as comfortable as possible. This means the mediator or either party can change the course or structure of the mediation or even end the mediation at any time.
    Why does mediation work?
    Ideally, Mediation works because parties want to move past the issue at hand. When parties agree to come to the mediation table, they send the message that this issue is important enough to set aside all else to focus on a resolution. A skilled mediator can help parties identify the true underlying interests of their issue, gain a new understanding of one another, and keep the conversation moving in a positive direction.
    Mary Sargent Mediation • 20 Trafalgar Square • Suite 409 • Nashua NH 03060 • (603) 589-4000
    Now Accepting Referrals from Massachusetts