Allowing or Prohibiting Parties to Speak to Each Other

Even when the parties are in the same room, a few models don’t allow them to speak directly to each other. In other contexts where extreme power imbalances exist, a history of violence is present, or other safety issues arise, mediators may place disputants in dif­ ferent rooms and shuttle back and forth between them or conduct the session by phone or via the Web. However, most mediation models prefer face-to-face contact.

In the cases in this chapter, it makes sense to let the parties who have a continuing rela­ tionship talk to each other and to keep them in the same room. However, because emotions are high in each of these cases, the mediator may request that the parties only talk to her during the early stages of the session and only allow disputants to converse directly when emotions are calmer.

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Writing and Signing or Not Signing Agreements

Agreement formats vary widely depending on the purpose of the mediation. Some agreements must follow specific formats initiated by a company, regulatory agency, court, or program. Other agreements are for the disputants’ eyes only. In some states that have adopted the standards in the Uniform Mediation Act, written agreements are required or strongly encouraged.