Mediation can feel scary or overwhelming, especially if you’ve never participated before. Some people worry that they will not be able to think properly and might make a decision they will later regret. Having a support person with you during mediation who can provide moral support might be helpful.
How To Choose A Support Person?
Your support person should not be involved in, or affected by, your dispute. They should be someone who can provide you with psychological support and confidence without having to say anything. Ideally, they will be someone who can help you think more broadly about issues and consider carefully any proposals made by the other party during a private session with you. Sometimes it’s better to ask a good friend to be your support person instead of a family member because family members can be a little too supportive at times.
Key Points About The Support Person In Mediation
It is very important that you discuss having a support person with the mediator well before mediation. If you ask to bring a support person at the last minute, or if your support person shows up unannounced, the mediator has the right to refuse to let them be present.
- The other party must agree to your support person being present during mediation. How would you feel if you turned up to mediation to find that the other party had brought someone you really dislike or don’t trust?
- The mediator will ask your support person to sign a confidentiality agreement. Remember, everything in mediation is confidential. Nobody who attends mediation may speak about it with anyone else.
- The mediator will discuss your support person’s role with you and your support person, as well as the other party, prior to mediation.
- The support person may not advocate for you and will not be permitted to talk on your behalf. The mediator might permit the support person to ask questions if everyone agrees.
- You may ask to have some private time with your support person so you can take a break or discuss things.
- Your mediator and the other party must be confident that your support person will be a positive influence on the mediation.
What If I Can’t Bring My Support Person?
Don’t despair! Mediation is still a better alternative than going to court.
- You are can ask to have a break during mediation where you can have some time to yourself. During that time you can always call someone for advice,
- the mediator’s job is to make sure that everyone feels comfortable and safe so they will keep checking-in with you to see how you’re feeling, and
- you can tell the other party that you agree to something, but need more time to think about it or discuss the agreement with an advisor.
If you need time to think about something, or discuss it with someone else, then commit to responding to the other party by a specific date and time, and make sure you do so. This will help build bridges between you and might make it easier to resolve disagreements in the future.
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