Mediation is a customary procedure ordered by family courts for civil suits relating to family law like divorce, child custody etc. The idea of mediation is to allow parties to dispute to sort out their issues between themselves without going through court procedures. All parties to mediation — mediator, petitioners, respondents, and their lawyers are expected to work towards that goal.
Following is a brief explanation of procedure of mediation.
1. Mediation date and time is given by court to both parties – husband and wife parties. On the date of mediation both are expected to appear in Mediation centre of the court premises.
2. Mediation is conducted/moderated by an expert who is a lawyer by training and does it pro-bono, i.e, without financial remuneration.
3. Mediation process once started can last for maximum 60 days. It can happen multiple times within this period. At the end of it the mediation centre has to send their report to court, whatever be the result of mediation – success or failure.
4. Whatever is said during mediation is not used for any legal or court purposes. No written records are kept. So one can say something without fear of being incriminated based on that.
5. If an amicable settlement of dispute is reached between parties, the mediator will ask the parties to put that in writing. That document will be sent to court. The final agreement will only happen with a court approved document. So the job of mediation centre is to facilitate on reaching mutual agreement and not taking over job of courts.
Physical process of mediation
1. Parties reach mediation room at appointed time, accompanied by lawyers. Lawyers are not the main actors here. Their job is not to argue case or points. They are supposed to facilitate mediation and that is what they usually do in front of mediator.
2. Mediator explains the steps of mediation. The first discussion is with both parties present. She will ask some background information from both parties (without asking about dispute or petition). She may ask what grievances the parties have.
3. One party will then leave the mediation room. Mediator discusses the issues with the party in room to understand their view of the problem/ petition etc. This is called private discussion.
4. After that mediator gives same opportunity to the other party in private discussion.
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5. Finally both parties again meet with mediator. Mediator will try to do best effort to arrive at some kind of settlement after understanding issues /points raised by both parties. If more time and effort is require for parties to think over, then mediator will give next date and time of mediation.
6. In next mediation, the same process will repeat as above. Hopefully within 60 days of mediation period, the parties can arrive at mutually acceptable settlement of dispute. Else they have the option to get justice in the courts.