While court hearings are public, mediation remains strictly confidential. No one but the parties to the dispute and the mediator know what happenes during the session, unless an agreement is reached and submitted to the court. Confidentiality in mediation has such importance that in most cases the legal system cannot force a mediator to testify in court as to the content or progress of mediation. Many mediators destroy their notes taken during a mediation once that mediation has finished. The only exceptions to such strict confidentiality usually involve child abuse or actual or threatened criminal acts.
Initial Contact Information:
Prime concern is keeping mediation communications confidential. Parties and non-party participants (i.e. child's psychotherapist) must be able to speak with full candor for a mediation to be successful and for a settlement to be voluntary. For this reason, communicating with me about my availability or to discuss potential conflicts of interest before being retained, would not be a violation of the rules regarding confidentiality. It's appropriate for a mediator to communicate with a party beforehand regarding a mediator's qualifications and availability to timely handle their case, however, the nature of such initial contacts would then be disclosed to the opposing party.
Information shared during the ADR process:
Contact information about each party is therefore collected through our contact forms. As a neutral, I do not gather information other than what you provide. A party inquiring about my availability, once they decide to ask me to become involved, is required to give me each party's' contact information (e.g., name, phone number and email address) and where the case is going to be filed. Once both sides have confirmed that I am to be retained, the parties may share documents and information with before and during sessions, which they do not want disclosed to the other party. A mediator can keep such information confidential for negotiation purposes.
If you have any questions about this confidentiality statement or about how to get started with mediation, an early neutral evaluation, or some other form of ADR, please contact me.