Frequently Asked Questions About Mediation

What is mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process for resolving disputes with the help of a trained, neutral third-party called a "mediator."

Who are the mediators?

The mediators are Good Shepherd Mediation Program staff and volunteers who have completed a minimum of 24 hours of mediator training and successfully completed an mediator apprenticeship.

What is the role of the mediator?

The mediator does not make a decision like a judge or arbitrator does. The mediator does not give legal advice or representation. The mediator does not take sides or tell the parties what to do. The mediator is not a therapist or a counselor. The mediator facilitates the dialogue and helps the parties understand each other's points of view. The mediator may help the parties to clarify the issues, brainstorm possible solutions, and write out the decisions reached by the parties.

Do I need to bring an attorney?

No, you do not need to bring an attorney to the mediation; however, attorneys may participate if the parties think it is necessary. Parties may have their mediated agreements reviewed by an attorney prior to signing it if they so desire. As a result of the mediation, you may need an attorney to draft documents involving legal issues such as: filing for divorce, estate planning, wills and trusts, administration, powers of attorney, medical directives, or guardianship.

What are the benefits of mediation?

  • Self Determination - the parties control the outcome. The mediation results in either a mutually beneficial resolution agreed upon by all the parties, or no agreement. The mediator does not tell the parties what to do or make a decision like a judge or arbitrator.
  • Convenient - mediations can be scheduled at your convenience - during the day, early evening and weekends - at a location near you.
  • Confidential - mediation is private and confidential. Good Shepherd Mediation Program and the mediator will not reveal anything that is said or done during the mediation process to anyone who is not present at the mediation. Nothing presented in mediation can be used in any legal proceeding on the matter. That means the mediator would not willingly testify in court in regard to the mediation if the parties don't settle in mediation and decide to take their issue to court to be resolved. There are some exceptions to mediation like suspicion of child abuse, and threats of harm to self or others, or property. Mediation confidentiality is protected under Title 42 Pa Consolidated Statutes §5949.
  • Inexpensive - No one is turned away for inability to pay. Some people are eligible for free mediation services. Otherwise, the fee structure depends on the type of mediation requested because some processes require mediators with special expertise. A flat fee per session applies for community mediation, peer mediation, and parent-youth mediation. Divorce, custody and elder mediation fees are determined on a sliding scale based on income. For multi-party and group facilitation, fees are based on an hourly rate per facilitator; the number of facilitators needed depends on the size of the group.

How can I schedule a mediation?

Call Good Shepherd Mediation Program at 215-843-5413.

Both parties must agree to mediate. The Mediation Program does not have the power to subpoena anyone to come to mediation. If you request mediation, Good Shepherd Mediation Program will contact the other party for you, if you wish, to explain the mediation process and ask if the other party is interested in mediating.

What happens if the other person involved won't mediate?

You can meet with a conflict coach who is trained to help you make a plan for how to address the conflict with other person involved. This process is called Conflict Coaching. Click here to find out more about Conflict Coaching.

What happens if we don't settle?

The mediator will help you decide what to do next. Mediation does not interfere with your due process rights. You can always take your case to court if it does not settle in mediation. Sometimes mediation opens the door to settlement; even if the parties are not able to reach agreement during the mediation session, they continue the conversation started during the mediation and reach a resolution on their own later.

When is mediation NOT appropriate?

  • Issues that are not negotiable (e.g., things against the law)
  • Domestic violence
  • When one of the parties declines the invitation to mediate
  • Guilt or innocence is not an issue that is decided in mediation