As an alternative to living with the stress of conflict or the anxiety of the formal legal system, mediation can help people in conflict find workable solutions quickly and affordably.
Using a voluntary and confidential process, neutral mediators help parties in conflict reach a mutually satisfying agreement. Mediators assist parties in communicating with each other and encourage everyone to collaboratively solve a problem with a solution that meets everyone's needs.
Mediation can be used in a variety of disputes, including but not limited to:
Family (divorce, parenting plans, elder care, and parent/teen issues)
Benefits to Mediation
Create your own solutions
Private and confidential
Much faster than court system
Less costly than litigation
High settlement rate
What to Expect from Mediation
Mediators at the DRC are neutral, third party facilitators. They are present to help the clients communicate effectively about their dispute and encourage the clients to work collaboratively toward a solution. The mediators will not take sides or give advice. They will not tell you what to do or impose a decision on you.
In mediation you will be asked to participate in good faith. This will include listening to the other party, keeping and open mind about solutions and truly working toward a win-win solution. Clients will be asked to give serious consideration to proposals made during the mediation.
It is very important for clients to participate in mediation using basic rules of common courtesy. You will be asked to refrain from interrupting the other party, using inflammatory language, name calling and pushing the other parties hot buttons.
The process is designed to help you communicate with the other person and focus on problem solving. It will include an introductory statement by the mediators, followed by uninterrupted statements by each of you. This statement should focus on what has brought you to the mediation and what you would like to see happen. The mediators will then help the two of you create a list of items to discuss during the mediation. You will be given an opportunity to negotiate with the other person while the mediators assist by facilitating the conversation. Finally the mediators will put into writing any agreements the two of you reach.
It's important for mediation clients to be prepared. Please remember to email any paperwork you will need to help make an informed decision to your case manager prior to the mediation. It can also be helpful to complete a Mediation Preparation Worksheet. With online mediation, it is important to provide these documents to your case manager at least two weeks prior to your mediation.
Neither DRC staff nor the mediators in a case will provide legal advice. If you need the assistance of an attorney prior to your mediation, you are encouraged to seek any outside information you will need to help you negotiate.
We have many informational resources and worksheets to assist in preparing for mediation
What can mediation do for you?
Small Claims Court
When you file a claim in Snohomish County (Cascade, Everett, Evergreen or South Division), Island County or Skagit County, your first date of appearance at court will be for a mediation session. You do not need to contact the Dispute Resolution Center prior. Mediators will be automatically provided for your mediation session at the courthouse.
If you have questions about filing your court paperwork or the court process, you will need to contact the appropriate District Court.
Small Claims Process
The judge will give opening remarks about the mediation process and why it’s beneficial to participate fully in the process. The judge will call through the calendar and in cases where both parties to a case are present, they will be sent to mediation.
Mediators will escort you to a mediation room where one mediator will deliver some additional information that will help you make the most of the mediation process. Mediators will help you negotiate your case to see if a satisfactory resolution can be reached. All settlements are legally binding and protect both parties. There is no risk to settling your case. If either party breaks the contract, the other can request a trial before a judge.
Bring all documentation to mediation that you will be presenting at trial. This allows all parties to make an informed decision based on what will be presented at trial.
Witnesses are not necessary at mediation and will be asked to wait outside of the mediation. Witnesses only participate in mediation if all the parties listed in the dispute agree to have the witness participate.
Mediators are neutral 3rd parties and do not give legal advice or recommend how to resolve your case. They are highly trained and will guide you through a process that will allow each party an opportunity to share the views and options for resolving your case. Once a mutually satisfying agreement has been reached the mediator will write out your agreement which captures the details of your settlement.
The mediation process is confidential. Requests and offers are protected by confidentiality. Once you go to trial the judge will not hear offers made in mediation. This allows you to be creative and flexible when making offers to resolve the case.