Mediation is a way for people to solve a legal problem without going to trial. Mediation usually occurs after a court case is filed. But, it can also happen before a court case begins.
At mediation, the parties have an opportunity to tell their side of the story. The mediator helps reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. A settlement agreement states what each party will do in order to resolve their dispute.
Both parties must attend the mediation. Parties do not need a lawyer to go to mediation. If an agreement is reached, the terms are put in writing and both parties sign it. The parties are required to follow the agreement. When a court case is already filed, if any party violates the settlement agreement, the other party may request a hearing from the court.
When preparing for mediation, parties should collect and bring to the mediation any papers related to their dispute. What each party says during mediation is confidential and cannot be used in court against each other. However, the mediator may be required to report issues of child abuse, elder abuse and the admission of a crime.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement at mediation, the case can be filed in court or if already filed, it will be sent back to the court for a trial where a judge or jury decides the outcome.
The Cleveland Housing Court offers mediation for the benefit of both landlords and tenants. Most commonly in eviction cases, the parties agree on a date for the tenant to voluntarily move out. Landlords benefit by knowing a tenant will move and tenants avoid having an eviction judgment. To schedule mediation at Cleveland Housing Court, contact the mediation coordinator at 216-664-4926 or see a Housing Court Specialist on the 13th floor of the Justice Center.
Mediation can also be an option to resolve disagreements about child custody. See Legal Aid’s brochure, Custody Mediation: What You Should Know In Advance, available at http://lasclev.org/custodymediationbrochure/.
Mediation is available to help resolve other types of problems through the Cleveland Mediation Center. See http://clevelandmediation.org/programs/community-disputes/ for more information.
This article was written by Legal Aid Senior Attorney Abigail Staudt & Staff Attorney Hazel Remesch and appeared in The Alert: Volume 30, Issue 2. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!