Arnold Swartz and Associates
Business and Family Mediation
About Our Process
Mediation is a collaborative problem-solving and decision-making process. The goal is to help people make decisions that address as many of the needs and concerns of everyone involved as possible. The emphasis of the process is on mutual satisfaction, not winning and losing.
Prior to the start of mediation, we offer a free consultation to anyone who wants a face-to-face meeting with the mediator before committing to the process. This meeting is scheduled with the parties together and lasts approximately one-half hour. It is optional, however there is no charge.
The first formal step is to meet separately with each person. The purpose of this interview is to obtain a brief history of the situation at hand, get to know each person and his/her perspective on the issues that need to be addressed. This includes an understanding of one’s needs and concerns, as well as one's thoughts about how to resolve those issues. (Initially, this is easier to do if the other person is not present.)
Most of the remaining time is spent meeting together. During these sessions, we assist the parties in making decisions that meet as many of their needs and concerns as possible. At the beginning of the first joint session, the mediator presents the parties with a summary of the issues they are to address, based on what was learned in the individual interviews. Once everyone agrees on the agenda, the process begins wherever the parties chose.
We encourage our clients to make their agreements as detailed as possible. The more detailed the agreement is now, the less room there is to argue about what it means in the future. One of the reasons former spouses end up in litigation and/or mediation is because portions of their agreement were not clear.
Once an overall agreement is reached, the mediator will prepare a memorandum of understanding that describes the terms of the agreement in great detail. If either person has an attorney, we ask that the agreement be reviewed with the attorney before it is finalized or signed. Any questions raised by the attorneys are brought back to mediation in order to iron out any remaining wrinkles.
The individual sessions are scheduled for one and one-half hours at a time. The joint sessions are usually scheduled for two-hour blocks of time, as more can be accomplished in one two-hour session that in two one-hour sessions. However, the clients are charged only for the time that is actually used.