More About BJCCRC
1. WHAT ACTUALLY IS MEDIATION?
In simple terms, mediation is an opportunity to settle your difference with another party or parties without having to use the courts and legal system.
It is informal and non-adversarial. In most cases it is a voluntary process where a trained, unbiased mediator acts as a netural third party to assist disputants reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
2. WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR MEDIATION?
Anyone who has a dispute with another party is eligible for mediation. An individual can mediate with an insurance company over a claim, a tenant with their landlord, an employee with their employer, families over an inheritence, a husband and his wife. All that is asked is that the parties to the dispute must each voluntarily agree to the mediation process and adhere to the rules set forth by the mediation center.
3. WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR DIVORCE MEDIATION?
All separating and divorcing couples are eligible for mediation in the State of South Carolina. The state legislature has made it madatory that all separating and divorcing couples attempt mediation for family financial (property distribution) before they can bring their case to court. Mediation is not strictly limited to just property distribution, but can also include parenting (custody), spousal and child support. A referral from an attorney is not necessary to begin mediation and the only time a court will order mediation is when the couple cannot agree on who should be the mediator. Couples are free to hire a mediator of their choice anytime within the process of separation and divorce.
4. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE MEDIATOR?
A mediator is not a judge, nor arbitrator, nor therapist, The mediator will not decide the case for you, but rather be a facilitator, communicating useful ideas about the issues allowing the parties to make their own choices in settling the matter. The mediator may at times offer suggestions, but it is up to the parties to use the suggestions made by the mediator or reject those same suggestions. The mediator allows the disputants to explore numerous options while maintaining a safe enviroment for open communication.
5. WHAT CAN MEDIATION DO FOR YOU?
Save you time, money, and emotional stress and a whole lot more.
6. IS MEDIATION CONFIDENTIAL?
The advertisment " what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" basically holds true in mediation sessions. What is said or documents produced within the mediation session are confidential and the mediator cannot be compeled to testify as to the documents or discussions made while mediation was in progress or beyond, except in the case of domestic violence or child abuse discovered while in mediation.
7. ARE ALL MEDIATION CENTERS AND PRACTICES CLIENT-CENTERED?
No, There is a difference in Client-Centered mediation and Law-Focused mediation. Client-Centered mediation uses the approach of disputes whether civil or divorce as being a personal problem between the parties and not necessarily a legal problem. It focuses on future planning and not on the cause of the conflict. The decisions that the parties in the room make are the most important aspect of Client-Centered mediation, not who was right and who was wrong. Law-Focused mediation concentrates on a standard of fairness that is used to determine if the settlement will fit into what the law will either allow or approve. To learn more about Client-Centered mediation, please read the article in this website.
8. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COURT AND MEDIATION?
Courts deal in the past. Mediation deals in the future. (See article "Courts vs Mediation")
9. HOW IS MEDIATION DIFFERENT FROM ARBITRATION?
In arbitration, the arbitrator decides the case by hearing both sides of the case and makes a determination like a judge. Mediation lets the parties make their own decisions on how to settle the case.
10. WILL THE MEDIATOR GIVE YOU LEGAL ADVICE?
No. Mediators are refrained from giving you legal advice and will not and should not offer legal opinions as to the outcome of your case, nor legal advice about specific legal questions you may have. Both parties to the dispute will be advised at the onset of mediation about obtaining legal advice through your own attorneys or independent counsels of your choosing if you wish to have a legal question answered.
11. IS IT REQUIRED THAT I HAVE AN ATTORNEY PRIOR TO STARTING MEDIATION?
No, it is not. You do not need an attorney to mediate your dispute or to start mediation. All that is asked is that all parties agree to mediate. You can request mediation before you start legal action or anytime during legal action.
12. CAN I BRING MY ATTORNEY TO MEDIATION?
Yes you can, as long as the other party brings theirs. If the other party is not represented by an attorney, it will be their decision if they want the mediation session to continue while they are un-represented by counsel. We encourage your attorney to act as your legal advisor during mediation, but you will be required to speak for yourself.
13. WHO WILL DRAFT THE FINAL SETTLEMENT IN OUR DIVORCE CASE?
You or your spouse can have your attorneys draft the final settlement from the Memorandum of Agreement that you receive from the mediator. If you are not represented by attorneys, you can hire an independent counsel to draft the document, or you can do it yourself. The mediator cannot draft and file your final settlement agreement. At your consultation you will be informed of your options.
14. HOW LONG WILL MEDIATION TAKE?
Every case is different. A case involving a Homeowner and a Home Owners Association may only take thirty minutes, where a divorce/separation case may take four to five, two hour sessions depending on the complexity and the willingness to the participants to work towards a settlements. Your mediator can give you a general idea of the time involved.
15. WHAT WILL MEDIATION COST?
Every case is different. Beaufort/Jasper Community Conflict Resolution Center by our mission statement is a low to no cost mediation facility. Divorce/separation cases are charged on a sliding income scale. A Landlord/Tenant dispute, a Business to Business issue, or a Workplace/Management dispute all have a low-cost to no-cost fee schedule depending on the circumstance and the complexity of the case. Your mediator can explain the different costs at your consultation.
16. WHAT IF I AM ALREADY IN LITIGATION?
It is never too late to move from the litigation process to mediation. To use mediation to address those remaining issues that would benefit from a focus on interests not positions. It is never too late to change the tenor of your dispute resolution process to one that treats the other party with respect and dignity. There is no benefit to throwing good money after bad. If the litigation process is not working for you, please consider coming in or calling for a free consultation.
17. WHAT IF MY CASE IS TOO COMPLICATED FOR MEDIATION?
No case is too complicated to be settled through mediation.
18. DO ALL ATTORNEYS UNDERSTAND AND SUPPORT MEDIATION?
Mediation is still a relatively new way of approaching dispute resolution. Many adversarial attorneys have little or no experience with the non-adversarial approach used in mediation, especially Community Client-Centered mediation. Some even disapprove of mediation, arguing that divorcing spouses should not negotiate on their own behalf but only through lawyers. These attitudes are slowly changing, as attorneys become more aware of mediation and its benefits for their clients. The use of independent counsels who are "mediation friendly" in conjunction with mediation is becoming very popular in all matters of dispute.
19. WILL OUR AGREEMENTS WE MAKE IN MEDIATION BE ENFORCEABLE?
Agreement are enforceable to the extent that the parties agree to keep their end of the bargain so to speak. Once an agreement is signed, that agreement is prepared and filed with the court in the case of divorce agreements. In other civil matters the agreement made either through the legal system or mediation are only as good as the participants live up to the agreement. Of course there are other legal ramification that can be taken to enforce an agreement, although generally, agreements made in mediation stand a far better chance of fullfillment than court ordered agreements due to the fact that the agreement made in mediation was mutually agreed upon by the disputing parties and not based on a court decision of who was right and who was wrong, where one party always feels slighted in the decision.
20. WHAT HAPPENS IF WE CAN'T AGREE IN MEDIATION?
You will reach what is known as an impasse. The parties will go their own way and continue with the case through the legal system, except that the confidentually of what was produced while in mediation will be upheld.
21. IF WE WANT TO MAKE CHANGES TO OUR SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS CAN WE COME BACK TO MEDIATION?
Yes, you can return to mediation as often as you like as long as both parties agree to participate in mediation. It is common for divorced couples with children to return to mediation to make changes to their custody or support arrangements even years after their initial settlement agreement.
22. WHAT IS INVOLVED WITH MEETING WITH BEAUFORT/JASPER COMMUNITY CONFLICT RESOLUTION CENTER?
This is as simple as calling and setting an appointment for a free consultation. At this consultation you will meet the mediator and he or she will describe the mediation process fully and provide you ample time to ask any questions you may have. It is recommended that for divorce mediation that the couple come to this consultation together. The BJCCRC does not charge a retainer for its services. You the client are always in charge of the process.
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