FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
What is mediation? Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process whereby a mediator helps the parties to reach a settlement that is agreeable to both parties. The mediator does not function as a judge or an arbitrator and has no power or authority to make decisions on behalf of the parties, nor to issue orders.
Who will be conducting my mediation? At 8 Second Legal, your mediation is conducted by a licensed attorney with more than a decade of litigation and trial experience .
Who is present at mediation? If there is a court case associated with the mediation, all parties to the court case should be present at mediation. If the parties have attorneys, their attorneys are frequently (but not always) present as well. At 8 Second Legal, spouses of the parties are allowed to be present as many parties are unwilling to reach an agreement without the ability to consult their spouse. Third-parties, such as friends or other family members, can only be present if all parties agree to the presence of the third-party.
How much does mediation cost? At 8 Second Legal, mediation is $200 per hour. (Does not apply to CHINS/At Risk Youth mediations). It is common for the parties to split the cost of mediation equally, which means that each party would pay $100 per hour. Sometimes, the parties split the cost pursuant to the proportionate shares set out in their Child Support Worksheet, in which case the parties must alert the mediator to this intention prior to mediation. Payment must be paid in full at the time of service.
What if I can’t afford mediation? If mediation is required by your Parenting Plan or other court order and you cannot afford mediation, there are mediation facilities that can work with you at a reduced rate or on a sliding scale. 8 Second Legal is a private firm that offers high-level mediation with a licensed attorney; therefore, you should only schedule mediation with 8 Second Legal if you are agreeable to our office’s hourly rate and you are able to pay for the service on the same day the service is rendered.
How long does mediation take? Mediation can frequently be accomplished in one session, but occasionally the mediator sees fit to schedule a subsequent session. The parties can usually ascertain within the first one or two hours if the mediation is likely to lead to settlement. If either party determines that the mediation is unlikely to lead to settlement, either party may terminate the mediation at any time. If the session proceeds for longer than two hours, this is usually an indication that the parties are making progress towards a settlement. A mediation that leads to settlement can be expected to last anywhere from 3 to 5 hours (or longer if the issues are complex). CHINS/At Risk Youth mediations are shorter and can be expected to last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.
How do I schedule a mediation? If you have an active court case and you also have an attorney, your attorney will contact the mediator to schedule mediation for a time that works for you. If you do not have an attorney and you want to schedule mediation, then simply call our office at 509-747-1817. During this phone call, our office will not collect any information from you other than the case number (if you have one), party names, phone numbers, and email addresses. We ask that you not share any merits of the case with us during this phone call as we will collect those details from you during the mediation when we can give you our devoted attention. Once the mediator has contact information for both parties, the mediator will send a text or an email to both parties on the same thread with a set of available dates so that the parties can mutually agree upon a date (subject to the other party agreeing to use our office for mediation). Once a date is selected, the mediator will collect a deposit of one full hour ($200.00) and then email the parties a Confirmation, an Agreement to Mediate, and Zoom credentials for any party that prefers to appear by Zoom. Note that your mediation date is NOT CONFIRMED until the full deposit is made. $100 of this deposit is nonrefundable. The remainder of the deposit is refundable so long as the mediation is cancelled at least 3 business days in advance of the scheduled start time.
What happens after mediation? If the parties reach a settlement, then the mediator will have the parties sign what is called a CR2A Agreement at the end of mediation. This agreement binds the parties to their settlement. If one or both parties are represented by attorneys, the attorney will draft the documents that ultimately get signed by the parties and then by a judge. This usually does not occur during mediation as it can take several days, or even a matter of weeks, for the attorneys to draft documents and circulate them for signatures. The CR2A Agreement that is signed during mediation is a valid and enforceable agreement, regardless of how long it takes to have final documents drafted and signed by the judge. If neither party is represented by counsel, they may elect to have the mediator draft their final documents.
Do I need an attorney with me at mediation? If you have an active case and you have an attorney, you and your attorney will decide together whether or not your attorney should be present with you at mediation. If you do not have an attorney, then you will appear at mediation without counsel. Mediation is a safe process, whether or not you have an attorney. Having an attorney present at mediation does not give one party more power over the other, it simply gives the party with the attorney access to the legal counsel that their attorney can provide.
What if there is a no contact order/restraining order in place? If you are the protected party in a No Contact Order/Domestic Violence Protection Order and you want to schedule mediation with the other party, simply contact our office and we will ask you for the contact information for the other party. Our office will reach out to the other party to see if they are agreeable to scheduling mediation with our office and we will coordinate directly with them regarding mediation dates. In these cases, the mediator will not include both parties on the same email or text thread. If you are the restrained party and a judge has ordered you to schedule mediation in your case, you can contact our office directly and we will ask you for the contact information for the other party. We will NOT contact the other party on your behalf; however, we will contact the party on our own behalf to see if they are agreeable to scheduling mediation with our office. If they are, our office will work directly with both parties, separately, to get a mediation date and time set. Unless the parties both have attorneys, one or both parties will need to appear by Zoom, so as to avoid any violations of the restraining order.
What does the mediation process look like? At 8 Second Legal, the parties are usually kept in separate conference rooms for the entirety of the mediation. Whether the parties appear in-person or by Zoom, the parties will not have to see or interact with each other at all during the mediation unless all parties and the mediator agree that it would be helpful. The mediator will greet both parties separately and then begin by speaking with one party alone. The mediator will then speak to the other party alone, and this cycle may repeat several times. The mediator will not champion the interest of either party, but will simply help both parties to communicate so that they may reach their own agreement.
What if mediation doesn’t work? If the parties do not reach an agreement during mediation, then the mediator will issue the parties a Certificate of Mediation so that the unsettled issues will be qualified to proceed forward to court action. The Certificate of Mediation will NOT reveal any of the details of the negotiations, but will simply list the general issues that the parties attempted to mediate. The mediator will not file the Certificate with the court, but will leave it up to the parties’ discretion as to whether or not they choose to file the Certificate.
Is the mediator an attorney? At 8 Second Legal your mediator will be an experienced attorney who is licensed in the state of Washington.
What do I need to bring to mediation? If you are mediating financial issues such as division of assets/debts or spousal support, you will need to come to mediation with a thorough knowledge of what your assets and liabilities are. This includes the accurate values of all bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles, and credit card balances. If Child Support is at issue, you will need to bring documentation that supports your income, such as recent pay stubs, W-2s, and tax returns. If your mediation concerns subjects that are not financial in nature, you should bring documentation of any fact you will be asserting in mediation that may be in dispute or questioned by the other party. An example would be bringing medical records or statements if you are asserting that your child has a medical condition that requires treatment.
Should I bring my child to mediation? At 8 Second Legal it is our policy to exclude children from mediation, regardless of their age. This means that no child, especially the child/children who are the subject of the mediation, may be present during mediation. If you are appearing at mediation by Zoom, then you must ensure that any children who are the subject of mediation are not within earshot of the mediation.
What if there is a Guardian ad litem assigned to our case? Sometimes the Guardian ad litem is present during mediation and sometimes they are not. Regardless of their presence, if you have a Guardian ad litem assigned to your case, any agreement that you reach with the other party will be subject to the approval of the Guardian ad litem. If the Guardian ad litem is present during mediation, this does not mean that the Guardian ad litem is present during the private conversations that the mediator has with each party. The mediator will NOT share any information with the Guardian ad litem that is disclosed or discussed during the mediator’s private discussions with either party.