Mediation is a voluntary process of cooperative problem solving in which a neutral third party, with special training and skills, helps individuals to work out mutually acceptable, agreements. The mediator is selected by agreement between the parties.
It is important to note that the mediator does not reach the solution; the parties do, with the mediator's help. Although conflict is difficult to deal with, and emotions often run high, you should come to mediation with an honest desire to reach a settlement that is fair to both and workable in practice. Participants in mediation must be prepared to be flexible in moving away from their initial positions to seek solutions which meet as many of their mutual interests as possible.
Mediation is voluntary, and either party is free to withdraw from mediation any time during the process. In fact, unless there is an existing contract between the parties which requires mediation if a dispute arises, or if required as part of a mandated court procedure, a party need not participate in mediation. In some circumstances, the mediator may also end the process, if he or she believes that mediation is not appropriate or useful for the parties. Although the process is voluntary, agreements reached through mediation can be as valid as any other contract.