When you’re ready to hire a mediator the mediator will likely present everyone who is coming to the mediation with an agreement to sign before the mediation begins. For non-lawyers this written contract might appear to have a lot of legal terms that might make it seem like you need a lawyer to advise you before you sign on so I thought I’d point out the key terms you’re likely to see in the mediator’s agreement to make this next step a little less imposing.

Typically the agreement with the mediator will name everyone who intends to participate in the mediation and then will describe a few basic guidelines and address what you can expect to happen once you are all in the same room, or the same “ZOOM.”

Today I’ll describe a few of those terms to begin to familiarize you with what you’ll be seeing in the agreement: scope of the mediation, good faith and impartiality.

After a general description of what a mediation is, you might see a definition of the “scope of the mediation.” This will probably state that the parties are going to agree to what gets discussed at the mediation when everyone gets together.

You’ll also see a reference to the parties’ “good faith.” This paragraph will acknowledge that the parties have the right to stay at the mediation, or leave if it’s not working for them, but that they agree to use good faith to complete the process despite any obstacles or disagreements that may arise.

The agreement will also describe the mediator’s “impartiality.” The mediator searches their records to make sure they don’t have any prior relationships with any of the parties before the mediation begins. The mediator will not act as an advocate for any one of the parties, will not impose any terms or require any concessions from anyone and agrees to remain neutral throughout the proceedings.