Mediation is a flexible, voluntary process for resolving disputes or conflicts. A mediator helps the parties to the dispute reach an agreement that resolves their conflict. Sometimes mediators are called third-party neutrals. The mediator’s role is always separate from the parties to the dispute: he or she is neither one of the parties in conflict nor an advocate, such as an attorney, for one of the parties. Mediation sessions can include attorneys for the parties or just the parties themselves, depending on the best approach for resolving a particular conflict. The mediator remains neutral throughout the process, never taking sides or issuing a judgment about right and wrong. Instead, the mediator works to help the parties — at least two and possibly more — to find a solution that best fits their interests.
Usually those involved in the mediation sessions join in a mediation agreement to keep the mediation process and communications made during it confidential. Parties who have reached a resolution may decide whether to make known certain details of their agreement. In some circumstances, individuals and entities not directly represented in a mediation may need to know about specific actions that will be taken pursuant to the agreement. Other times, those who are not directly involved in the mediation process, but have been negatively affected by the conflict, may simply join the actual parties in enjoying the benefits of seeing the conflict come to an end.