3. Get screened and sign a mediation-arbitration agreement

Screening is usually the first step in . Screening means your mediator meets with each of you separately to find out if there are things like:

  • a history of partner abuse
  • a mental illness, such as depression

It is done to see if your mediationarbitration can be fair and safe.

In some cases of partner abuse, a mediator can mediate in a way that makes the process fair and safe.

For example, if you aren’t comfortable being in the same room as your partner, the mediator can talk to each of you in separate rooms, by telephone, or online. They can also plan for both of you to come and go at different times.

In other cases, the mediator may decide that they can’t make the process fair or safe. If this happens, going to court may be your only option to resolve your issues.

Sign your agreement

Once you’ve decided which ADR professional to hire, your mediator or arbitrator usually drafts the mediationarbitration agreement and includes details, such as:

  • the issues you are going to mediate-arbitrate
  • the name of your mediator
  • the name of your arbitrator
  • when mediation and arbitration meetings take place
  • what documents you have to share and how you share them
  • how you, your partner, or the mediator ends the mediation if you haven’t resolved your issues
  • how arbitration begins
  • who pays for the mediator and arbitrator

Before signing the agreement:

  • Read it carefully.
  • Make sure that it includes all the important details about the process.
  • Review it with your lawyer.
  • Ask any questions you have.
  • Make sure that you understand it.

Pay special attention to how you can end mediation if the process is not working well.

You must get (ILA) before signing a mediationarbitration agreement.

A lawyer can also tell you what the law says about your rights and responsibilities. Rights are what the law says you can get. Responsibilities are what the law says you have to do. If you understand what the law says, you can better decide what you will agree to and if your partner is being reasonable.

If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer for your whole case, some lawyers provide “unbundled services” or “limited scope retainer” services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case.

If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer at all, you may be able to find legal help in other places.

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