Virginia's Judicial System

Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court: Mediation

The content of this page was provided by the Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court and has been posted on Virginia's Judicial System Web site as a courtesy to the Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary process that involves all parties to a case sitting down with a neutral individual (the mediator) to see if they can discuss their issues and settle their case with the mediator's help.

Mediation is not counseling. The mediator does not give legal advice, and the mediator does not decide your case. The goal of mediation is to reach a binding, written agreement that settles the dispute. Each party is given the opportunity to have the written agreement reviewed by an attorney prior to signing. If a party has an attorney at the time of mediation, that party must have the agreement reviewed by their attorney before they sign it.

How Does Mediation Work?

  • Set up an evaluation session: The parties contact the mediator and set up a session. The Clerk's Office has a list of Supreme Court Certified Mediators in your area.
  • Agree to Mediate: At the session, the mediator explains the ground rules and the process. If all parties want to continue to mediate, everyone signs an Agreement to Mediate.
  • Clear the air: Each side has a chance at the beginning to share where they are coming from, and state his or her concerns and goals.
  • Identify issues: The mediator listens, summarizes and identifies the main issues.
  • Brainstorm and problem solve: The mediator will help generate options and will keep all sides focused. Parties may begin to compromise and bargain.
  • Agreement: Hopefully, an Agreement is reached that can be put in writing and signed so that a Court hearing is not necessary.

Why Mediate?

  • It works! In most cases, people who try mediation are able to settle their problems with a binding Agreement. The Agreement can then be put into a Court Order and legally enforced.
  • Better results because it's your solution and you agreed to it.
  • Usually faster than going to trial.
  • Preserve relationships by communicating instead of fighting in Court.
  • Privacy. All communications except allegations of child abuse or neglect, threats of harm and complaints against the mediator, are confidential and cannot be used in any legal proceeding.

The mediator referees and monitors so communications stay on the right track.

The mediator encourages the parties to listen to each other.

The mediator can and will give legal information, but not advice.

Every Judge in Virginia has the power to Order parties in a case to a mediation evaluation session.

If mediation does not result in an Agreement, your case can still be decided by the Judge.

How is the Mediator Different From a Lawyer?

The mediator is trained specifically to help people resolve a dispute without taking sides. On the other hand, a lawyer represents one side and advocates for them. The mediator assists both sides in working through their dispute so they can compromise and settle.

What Case Won't Work in Mediation?

  • If your case involves a matter for which you want to establish new law or new precedent.
  • A family case where there is ongoing physical or psychological abuse.
  • Cases where either party is unable emotionally, physically or intellectually to discuss his or her concerns or understand the important issues.

For mediators in your area you may obtain a list from the Clerk's Office of any Court in your area. You may also check listings in the Yellow Pages. You may also call the Virginia Mediation Network at (804) 254-2666.

For more information, contact:
The Office of the Executive Secretary
Department of Dispute Resolution Services
(804) 786-6455