Guidelines for Mediation
- Mediation is defined as the confidential process by which a neutral mediator assists the parties in attempting to reach a mutually acceptable agreement on issues arising in a custody action. The role of the mediator is to assist the parties in identifying the issues, reducing misunderstanding, clarifying priorities, exploring areas of compromise and finding points of agreement. An agreement reached by the parties is based on the voluntary decisions of the parties and not the decision of the mediator. The agreement may resolve all or only some of the disputed issues. The parties are required to mediate in good faith, but are not compelled to reach an agreement. While mediation is an alternative means of conflict resolution, it is not a substitute for the benefit of legal advice. Rule 1940.2.
- A “Memorandum of Understanding” is the written document prepared by a mediator which contains and summarizes the resolution reached by the parties during mediation. A Memorandum of Understanding is primarily for the benefit of the parties and is not legally binding on either party unless both parties agree. Rule 1940.2.
- The mediator shall comply with the Professional Code of Conduct.
- The mediator must inform the parties in writing of the following:
- Costs of mediation;
- The process of mediation
- That the mediator does not represent either or both parties, and shall not serve as counsel for either of the parties in any matter arising out of the matters which were the subject of the mediation.
- The mediator may mediate subsequent disputes between the parties, but shall not act as attorney, counselor, or psychotherapist for any party either during or after the mediation of any matter which was the subject of mediation.
- That mediation is not a substitute for the benefit of independent legal advice; and
- That the parties should obtain legal assistance for drafting any agreement or reviewing any agreement drafted by the other party or reviewing any agreement reached in Mediation;
- When mediating a custody dispute, the parties shall consider what is in the best interest of the child or children.
- With the consent of the parties, the mediator may meet with the parties’ children or invite other persons to participate in the mediation.
- Mediation shall terminate upon the earliest of the following circumstances to occur:
- A determination by the mediator that the parties are unable to reach a resolution regarding all of the issues subject to mediation;
- A determination by the mediator that the parties have reached a resolution regarding all of the issues subject to mediation;
- A determination by the mediator that the parties have reached a partial resolution and that further mediation will not resolve the remaining issues subject to mediation; or
- A determination by the mediator that the proceedings are inappropriate for mediation.
- A refusal of one of the parties to continue with the mediation.
- A determination made by the mediator that he/she can no longer maintain neutrality.
- A determination by the mediator that one of the parties may be in violation of 42 Pa C.S.A 5949.
- No party, mediator or other person who participates, may be called as a witness, or otherwise compelled to reveal any matter disclosed in mediation undertaken, if any, during or subsequent to the initial session.
- Mediators shall charge $300 for the first two hour session. If the mediation requires more time, the mediator will bill per hour thereafter at his/her current rate of charge.
- Parties should be informed of the confidentiality limitations in 42 Pa. C.S.A. 5949.