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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of mediation?

-It takes less time than litigation in a less stressful environment.

-It is strictly confidential.

-It is less expensive.

-A decision isn’t imposed, but is reached by agreement of the parties, with the     guidance  of an impartial mediator.

How long does it take to complete mediation?

Every case is different, but many mediations can be completed in a single day, or in a series of shorter sessions over a period of time chosen by the parties. An experienced mediator will help the parties come to a voluntary, mutually agreeable solution.

Image by Benjamin Child

Is the record of mediation confidential?

Yes. Generally, what transpires in the course of mediation is confidential, which is usually spelled out in the Mediation Agreement between the parties. The confidential nature helps insure the free and full exchange of thoughts and options.

Who can serve as a mediator?

To be designated by the court as a Mediator, the individual must have completed at least 40 hours of basic mediation training in a program meeting the requirements of the Maryland Court of Appeals. There are also additional rules regarding special training required for family law disputes such as custody, visitation, child support and property division. Judge Gelfman has successfully completed that training, as well as specialized training to mediate guardianship matters

Do I need to have a lawyer for mediation?

While legal counsel can help guide a mediation to a successful resolution, an attorney is not required to enter into mediation. But keep in mind that your mediator does not provide legal advice, but is there to help the parties reach their own agreement through self-determination, so the parties may find it helpful to have their legal counsel present.

Image by Sebastian Pichler

Is mediation like a mini-trial?

Not at all. Instead of calling witness, introducing exhibits, qualifying jurors, arguing legal motions, and the like, mediation provides an informal venue to recognize the issues and agree upon a mutually agreeable way to resolve them. Generally, one party (or his or her attorney) informally presents his or her view of what is in dispute. There is no “cross- examination” or “rules of evidence or procedure”.

Then the other party (or his or her attorney) has the opportunity to do the same, the
purpose being to see that all issues are laid on the table. Once that has been done, with the aid of the mediator, the parties begin the process of negotiations, then identify the real issues and address them.

Frequently, the mediation can be completed in a single day. Sometimes, additional
information is needed so the parties agree to schedule session(s) at mutually agreeable times.

What happens at the end of mediation?

When the parties agree that they have reached the best possible result, a settlement agreement is reduced to writing.  The agreement can ask the Court to ratify and enforce its terms.  But the overall purpose of mediation is to guide the parties to finding their own solution which is agreeable to both.


Where is mediation held?

While mediations are often held in office conference rooms, sometimes

the circumstances of the matter being mediated require a special location, 

like a hospital or nursing home. The mediator will work with the parties

and their attorneys to find a mutually agreeable location for the mediation

session to be held.

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