Work Toward Resolution

Once you have selected your process and professionals, it is time to begin working toward resolving your case. Different professionals will each have their own process, but this is the general framework of working toward resolution:

Lay the foundation
Identify the problems to be resolved and describe why each person chose mediation or Collaborative Law.

Gather and exchange information
All legal disputes involve obtaining and exchanging information related to the case. Mediation and Collaborative Law are no different in that regard. Everyone still needs to get full and accurate information even though these are out-of-court processes.

Identify interests
Mediation and Collaborative Law use something called “interest-based” negotiation. This means that you try to settle your case in an important and meaningful way, i.e., in a way that meets your interests. You begin these processes by identifying what is important to both of you. Often you will find that there are “shared” interests. For example, two businesses will likely have a shared interest in preserving their working relationship in the future. Two parents will have a shared interest in minimizing conflict for the benefit of their child.

Identify options
Options are the choices that are available to solve any particular issue. After you have identified interests, often the next step is to begin generating options (“brainstorming”). During this process you identify as many options as possible but do not comment on them or evaluate them. It is important for people to be able to be creative at this stage and not worry about being criticized.

Evaluate options
After options are generated, the next step is to evaluate those options and figure out which options best meet your interests. The mediation and Collaborative Law processes typically produce long-lasting agreements because the goal is to select options that maximize everyone’s interests.

Make decisions and reach agreement
The last phase of the mediation or Collaborative Law processes is to make decisions and implement them. This is the phase in which negotiation and trade-offs occur. Once a final agreement is reached your mediator or Collaborative lawyer will prepare a judgment, mediated agreement or something similar which will usually then be filed with the court.

This describes the general framework of the mediation and Collaborative Law processes. There are different procedural aspects that make mediation and Collaborative Law different from one another, but they use the same general problem-solving framework.


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