Having a conflict with a neighbor or another person close to you can be an extremely stressful event. If you will be having an ongoing relationship with the other person, it may be in your best interest to work on resolving your conflict through the mediation dispute resolution process. This is different than the adversarial process where a court listens to both sides and then makes a decision that is binding on the parties. Below is some information to help you decide if mediation could be helpful in your situation. Mediation is offered through the Kitsap Dispute Resolution Center.
If you already have a pending protection order process and both parties decide to participate in mediation, please contact the municipal court and inform the clerk of your scheduled mediation date.
The Dispute Resolution Center of Kitsap County (DRC) offers mediation as a more peaceful alternative to litigation. If your wish is to avoid the court system, improve communication, or preserve or restore relationships, mediation is designed to do just that.
What is Mediation?
- An informal process where impartial mediators help people resolve a conflict
- Mediators facilitate, or guide, the conversation
- Parties talk about what is important to them in a safe setting
- A private and confidential process
- An opportunity to explore options not considered in the past
- A chance to develop realistic, workable solutions
- Clients control the outcome - reaching an agreement is voluntary
The DRC does not provide legal advice, counseling services or tell people how to resolve their conflict in mediation services.
Who should use Mediation?
Mediation is an excellent choice for clients who wish to have a say in the outcome of the conflict. Typical cases the DRC hearings involve;
- Divorce cases
- Modifying Parent Plans
- Neighborhood conflicts
- Commercial disputes
- Landlord / tenant disputes
- Workplace conflicts
- Contract negotiations
- Large group facilitations
- Communication agreements
The DRC office staff will be glad to help you determine if mediation is appropriate in your case. Clients that choose to use mediation still have the option of using the court system should the outcome of mediation not meet their needs. There may be some cases that are inappropriate for mediation such as cases involving domestic abuse, violent acts, or significant mental health issues.
Mediation is a negotiation where an impartial, third party (mediators) acts as facilitators of the conversation. They are not advocates, judges, or experts in legal matters. Mediation is an opportunity for you to have the greatest control of the outcome in the negotiation. The following steps occur in a mediation session.
§ Mediators' Opening Statement: Review the process, rules and roles.
§ Client Opening Statements: Each party briefly explains, without interruption, the situation from their perspective and share ideas of what they would like to see happen.
§ Client Responses: After client opening statements, each party is given the opportunity to respond to one another and understand one another more clearly.
§ Agenda: The parties develop a list of issues they both agree to talk about.
§ Exploration/Negotiations: Parties work with one another to develop solutions to the issues on the agenda.
§ Caucus: Mediators may hold private, confidential meetings separately with each party. Either party, or even mediators, may also request a caucus during the session.
§ Settlement: A settlement agreement may be written to memorialize the decisions made in mediation. In your words mediators will draft the agreement, and it is signed by all parties. Written agreements may be filed with the court as legally binding contracts. It is advisable to have attorneys review agreements.
In mediation, clients control the outcome of the mediation session. Settlements made in a mediation setting are agreements that are satisfactory to all parties. No one should sign an agreement that is not satisfactory to them. Call the Kitsap Dispute Resolution Center at 360.698.0968, for more information about mediation. The DRC staff will gladly answer your questions.