WHAT IS MEDIATION?

Mediation is way for people to resolve their own disputes without going to court.  In mediation, a neutral third party (the mediator) meets with all parties and helps the parties come to a mutually agreeable solution.

Mediators are not judges.  Unlike a judge, the mediator’s job is not to make decisions.  The mediator’s role is help the parties communicate, identify their interests and goals, and to brainstorm options to come to a mutually agreed upon settlement.

The Community Mediation Center (CMC) uses a type of mediation called facilitative mediation.  Facilitative mediation focuses on meeting the interests of each party to create a sustainable agreement.  Decisions cannot be imposed on either party and resolution does not happen until both parties agree on a solution.  

With rare exceptions, CMC mediations take place face-to-face in one room, which enables both parties to "hear" each other and express themselves.  Parties can have lawyers present if they wish.

Mediation is completely confidential and neither party can tell the Judge what was proposed or discussed during mediation.  Therefore, if the parties do not come to resolution neither party is disadvantaged if they must eventually take their case before a Judge.

Mediation is future-focused.  It focuses on solving problems, not imposing legal rules.  This is a very different approach than the Courts provide.  In Court, the Judge is required to look back to see what happened in the past and then makes a decision based on the law and the evidence presented in Court. 

The CMC provides a professional, neutral mediation space to ensure both parties feel comfortable. 

Why Choose Mediation?

If you have tried to resolve a dispute on your own and direct communication has failed, mediation is a great option.  It’s private, quick, cost-effective, and helps you resolve the dispute without ruining your relationship with the other person. 

Mediation works well if you have a dispute with a person with whom you need to maintain a good relationship.  This could include your ex-spouse, family members, your business partner or co-workers, your landlord, your tenant, your neighbors and anyone else with whom you have a personal or business relationship.  If you take someone to Court, it generally results in a broken relationship.

Another advantage of mediation is confidentiality.  Information revealed in mediation is legally protected under Montana law.  What you discuss or propose in mediation can never be brought up or used in Court.  If you are trying to protect business secrets or trying to avoid airing “dirty laundry” in public, you will have greater privacy with the mediation than litigation.  If you file a lawsuit, the filings, your statements and the legal proceedings all become public.

Mediation is also efficient.  Our mediators can generally schedule a mediation within a couple of weeks of your request for services and can hold several sessions if required.   Lawsuits, on the other hand, can take months, if not years to resolve.  Typically, smaller issues can be resolved within a few hours.  Mediations involving divorce, child custody or more complex business issues may take a couple of sessions to resolve.

Mediation is cost-effective.  What can be resolved in a couple of mediation sessions could take years to resolve in Court.  The cost of a mediation session will vary depending on the mediator and number of sessions, but will be much less inexpensive than litigation.  The costs of litigation are high.  For example, in Gallatin County, most family law attorneys charge at least a $5,000 retainer per client to begin work.  If you and your spouse can resolve your family law issue within one Mediation session, the cost would likely be around $300-$500.

Mediation produces sustainable agreements.  When you and the other party come up with an agreement in mediation, you are more likely to follow the agreement than if a Judge makes a decision and imposes a judgment.  When someone loses in Court, the losing party is almost always angry and will sometimes look for ways to violate the spirit of the judgment.  With mediation, if you have freely arrived at your own solution, you are more likely to follow through on your obligations.

How do I find a good mediator?

The Community Mediation Center’s mediators are all extensively trained in facilitative conflict resolution.  We can handle the following types of routine disputes:

  • divorce and custody issues
  • consumer problems
  • neighbor disputes
  • landlord-tenant issues
  • business termination
  • contract disputes
  • work-place conflict
  • limited income family mediation*

* If you have a family law case and you qualify for this program the District Court will send you a Court Order with the date and time of your CMC mediation.

All of our CMC mediators are vetted and have met CMC mediator training and observation criteria. To book mediation with a CMC Mediator please contact us or call (406) 522-8442.

If I choose mediation, will I still need a lawyer?

In most mediations lawyers are not necessary because you are trying to work together with the other party to resolve the problem instead of trying to convince a judge that you are right.

However, if there are substantial assets, property, or legal rights involved, you may want to consult with a lawyer before your mediation to discuss the legal consequences of possible settlement terms.  You may also feel more supported with a lawyer present.

Lawyers are welcome at CMC mediations but we ask lawyers to follow our CMC Mediation Policy for Attorneys.