Use this as your private worksheet to prepare for mediation.
- Make a list of all the issues you would like to discuss or decide in mediation.
- Include any concerns, large and small. Leave 3-4 empty lines between each item, where you will answer the following questions for yourself:
- What is important about this (from your point of view)?
- What do you want the other person to understand about this (from your point of view)?
- What are your concerns or worries about this?
- Making this list and answering these questions can be useful:
- It can help you clarify what's important to you and why.
- It can help you clarify what you want to say to the other person and what questions you want to ask them.
- In mediation, it is helpful to start by focusing on what's important to you - not the final decision you think you want. Answering these questions will help you do that.
- If the two of you start out only focused on the outcome you think you want, the mediation conversation may not go very far.
- In small claims cases, some people consult with an attorney before their court date. Some people bring attorneys with them to court. If you have an attorney, consult with him or her about your list.
- Ask your attorney if there are any additional issues you need to discuss. Add those to your list. (Your attorney can tell you if there are additional issues you need to consider based on what the law says needs to be decided in cases like yours.)
- Then, for each issue on your list, ask your attorney:
- Are there any legal or financial ramifications of this issue?
- What is the range of what the court might decide and why?
- Also ask your attorney to suggest a range of possible solutions and add these to your own list.
- Be sure you understand and have copies of any other information you may want to discuss in mediation. If you go to court, the judge will keep the evidence, so you should make a copy of anything you wish to keep for yourself.
You can bring your notes, lease agreement, contract, photographs, esitmates for repair, pay check stubs, police records, checks, tax records, bills, correspondence, receipts, a diagram of the scene of the crime, etc. You can also bring any other evidence, such as an item that was damaged, an item that caused damage, or a defective item that you bought. Bring anything you think might be useful.
- If you reach an agreement in mediation, the mediator will write it up in your words and you and the other person will sign it. Then you and the mediator will take your signed agreement into the courtroom, where the judge will read it and sign it. At that point, your agreement is enforceable by the court. You will receive a copy of your signed agreement before you leave the courthouse.
- If you don't reach an agreement in mediation, you will go into the courtroom for a hearing before a judge on the claims filed.
Most people in small claims cases doubt that they will be able to make decisions in mediation. Yet over two thirds of them reach agreement on some or all issues.
Mediation gives you a chance to make decisions that are acceptable to you.
Mediation: It's your solution.