Phase 1 — Introduction

Parties are given information about the mediation process. The mediator defines mediation and the mediator's role and describes confidentiality, impartiality, and neutrality. Once parties have a clear understanding of the process, they mutually agree to continue participation.

Phase 2 — Issues Discussed

Parties are given an equal amount of uninterrupted time to discuss the circumstances surrounding the dispute. They talk about their concerns and underlying issues.

Phase 3 — Options Developed

After gaining an understanding of the issues and interests, the parties brainstorm possible resolution options. Focus shifts from the past to the future. Parties discuss what must happen to make the situation better. They discuss their needs from the other person, but also are open-minded about changes they may need to implement personally.

Phase 4 — Settlement Agreement Written

Once all issues have been thoroughly discussed and a model resolution has been created, an agreement is written in clear, understandable terms. The parties can review the settlement agreement with an attorney if they wish, but it is not required. Parties sign a "Settlement Agreement" to finalize the process.