Mediation Center Hampton Roads


Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Why should I use mediation?

Unlike traditional court proceedings, mediation is not premised on a “winner-take-all” approach.  Instead, the focus of mediation is to enable parties to realistically assess their positions and cooperate to reach a mutually agreeable solution.The goal is for the parties to create a written agreement which accurately reflects the terms that each party feels are fair, balanced, and realistic. Mediation provides a non-threatening, neutral setting where people can communicate more effectively. Our trained mediators guide the disputing parties to come to an agreement while enabling the maintenance of long-term relationships. 

How does mediation work? 

In mediation, a third-party neutral (mediator) assembles the disputing parties, encourages dialogue, provides guidance, and helps define areas of agreement and disagreement, but does not impose a settlement. The mediator, through discussions with both sides, attempts to facilitate a negotiated solution by having each party recognize its true needs as well as those of the other parties. Mediation seeks a settlement through enabling parties to see their dispute from the perspective of their “interests” rather than their “rights” or “positions.”

Unlike traditional adjudication, mediation is not premised on a “winner-take-all” approach, but instead presupposes that parties will realistically assess their positions and cooperate in reaching a solution.

The mediation process brings disputing parties together to resolve their conflicts in a structured yet informal process. A typical mediation session lasts from one to two hours. Mediation has been especially effective in resolving disputes in areas such as labor-management, neighborhood conflicts, parent-teen disputes, separation/divorce and personal injury cases, consumer-merchant conflicts, landlord-tenant relations, and small claims and contractual disputes as well as workplace disputes and medical malpractice concerns.

The focus of mediation is to explore the potential for change in the behaviors and attitudes that have led to conflict, a confusion of roles and expectations, and a breakdown in communication. The goal is for the parties to create a consensual written agreement that each party feels is fair, balanced, realistic, and accurately reflects the issues raised and addressed in the mediation.

Mediation is not litigation. It does not determine who is right or wrong. All points of view are considered valid.

Mediation is not counseling. Mediation recognizes the emotional issues in a conflict, but it focuses on finding a workable solution to the problems, rather than the cause of the problem.

How long does mediation take/cost?

The number of sessions needed to complete a mediation agreement varies greatly. The type and complexity of the dispute, and the ability of the participants to negotiate during and after the sessions are factors which directly affect the time and cost of successful mediation.  Mediation fees are calculated hourly and are generally divided between the parties.

What should I expect during the mediation process? 

Our mediators understand you want to protect your own interests and the interests of your children while avoiding an expensive, time consuming and exhausting legal battle. Couples who can sit in the same room (even just for an hour at a time) can reach an agreement on how life will proceed post-separation.  We can assist you in addressing all your concerns in order to ensure a smooth transition for your family.

What are characteristics of cases not appropriate for mediation?

Situations involving serious patterns of domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental disability are evaluated on a case by case basis as to their appropriateness for mediation. There has been some success with these situations; however, caution is necessary when there is an imbalance of power, when a party may have difficulty negotiating reasonably, or when there may be an inability to comply with an agreement.

What about confidentiality?

Confidentiality is required by statute, and mediators cannot be summoned to testify in court. Information will only be released if all parties sign an authorization for release of information.

Can other people attend the mediation session?

Generally, only the individuals directly involved in the dispute attend the mediation sessions. Occasionally, other people such as family members, lawyers, or other professionals are included if they are needed for support, or to assist with resolving the dispute. Both parties must give permission for anyone else to attend or observe.

Is a mediated agreement legally binding?

Assuming the parties were aware of what they signed, and agreed to the terms without coercion, a signed Memorandum of Agreement is viewed as contractual. Generally enforcement is not an issue. Because the parties negotiate the agreement themselves after thoroughly considering the entire situation, and, generally, after consulting with their attorneys, they only sign if they believe that to do so is in their best interest.

What is the role of an attorney in mediation?

Aside from initially referring cases, attorneys can be an important resource to mediation clients. Consulting with an attorney prior to and during mediation provides clients with basic legal information that can aid with negotiations and provide clients with a realistic understanding of alternatives.  We recommend that mediation clients consult with an attorney before signing a Memorandum of Agreement.

What types of conflict can mediation solve?

Although the types of conflicts, issues and situations vary, over half the disputes resolved at the Mediation Center are between and among family members. Families mediate conflicts relating to separation and divorce, parenting issues and other relationship issues. Community disputes include landlord/tenant, consumer/merchant, neighborhood, and friendship problems. Organizations and businesses also use mediation or our facilitation services to resolve conflict between employers and employees, clients, management issues and inter-organizational disputes

Divorce Mediation

What is Divorce mediation?  

Divorce mediation enables separating couples to resolve their issues in an amicable, non-threatening manner. In this non adversarial process, couples can come together to open the dialogue on issues like property division, child and spousal support, custody, visitation and all other matters that will ensure a smooth transition for your family.

What if my spouse doesn’t want to meet with a mediator?

There are times when only one party is interested in mediation but the other is uncertain. We can meet with the interested party, draft an agreement and, in most instances, open the lines of communication to begin a dialogue toward resolution.

What if my spouse has moved out of the area? 

It is not necessary for both parties to be physically present to ensure a successful outcome. We offer our mediation services via Skype, FaceTime or Conference Call. And all of our Agreements are emailed to both parties for review, comment and approval.

Will mediation work if my asset holdings are extensive and complicated? 

We recognize that every couple is unique. We work closely with other financial professionals to ensure you have appropriate advice on the tax and retirement implications on division of assets.


LGBT Mediation

Are there different considerations in LGBT mediation?

Since the legalization of gay marriage by the Supreme Court of Virginia in October, 2014 and the Supreme Court of the United States in June 2015, our LGBT clients have same rights to uncoupling as others.

Military Mediation

Am I eligible to receive part of my spouse’s military retirement pay?

Retirement pay is considered a marital asset in Virginia and must be divided as part of a divorce. A non-military spouse is eligible to receive retirement directly from the DOD after 10 years of marriage. Remarriage does not terminate your right to receive retirement pay.

Will I lose my military benefits when I divorce my military spouse? 

Benefit entitlement varies and is dependent upon years of service and years of marriage during the time of service. Call us for additional information.

Am I still eligible for survivor benefits once divorced? 

Divorced spouses can be named as a beneficiary of the Survivors Benefit Plan. For more information, give us a call.

Will I automatically lose my 9/11 GI Bill benefits upon divorce?

If this benefit is in place prior to divorce it may be added to your agreement safeguarding your education as well as that of your children. Call us for more details.

How is child support calculated? 

Child support not only included base pay and BAH but also includes all other money earned, such as special pay, by the service member.

Will I be entitled to Alimony/Spousal Support? 

Alimony/Spousal support may be awarded by a judge if such payment is warranted. The award can be lump sum, periodic, or for a specific and limited time period.

Why use Family Mediaiton?

Mediation is useful for resolving conflicts among family and non-family members. We have provided mediation services for non-married couples facing custodial issues of a child from their former relationship. We assist couples with post-divorce custodial issues such as when one parent moves out of state or determining what school a child will attend.  We also assist in the uncoupling of relationships which can occur when two unmarried people determine to separate but still need to address issues such as the division of property which accumulated during the relationship

Family Mediation

What is Pre-Marital Mediation?

Most couples use pre-marital mediation to protect assets accumulated prior to the marriage. We see this most often in second marriages where parties want to protect their assets to the benefit of children from other relationships.


Pre-Marital Mediation

What is Elder Mediation?

This type of mediation offers siblings an opportunity to come together to determine the best care for their aging parent(s). It also allows siblings a venue to managing the estate of deceased parents.

Elder Mediation

How can mediation help me in the workplace?

Conflict naturally occurs in the workplace.  Sometimes it is the result of harassment, bullying, or EEO matters. We have successfully worked with
organizations to resolve specific issues of conflict.

How can I convince my employer to use mediation to resolve a workplace conflict?

Following a meeting with you we will reach out to your employer explaining the benefits to resolving your concern through the use of mediation

Employer-Employee Mediation

What is cooperative co-parenting? 

Our 4- hour co-parenting seminar is designed for adults who are in conflict with a co-parent concerning their children. The course will empower you to identify and address your children’s needs.

What will I learn? 

In this 4-hour class you will learn how to maintain effective communication regarding your children and how to distinguish between conflict issues and co-parenting issues. You will learn how to provide reassurance to your children when discussing divorce or conflict. And how to avoid behaviors which cause pain and potential damage to your children.  This course provides a step-by-step process for resolving conflict with a co-parent.

When and where is this class offered?

We offer this class at our Norfolk office on the Second Tuesday of the month (5 pm – 9 pm) and on the Fourth Saturday of the month (10 am – 2 pm). The class is also offered at the Human Services Building in Suffolk on the First Tuesday of the month (4 pm – 8 pm).  Please call us for more information regarding fees, payment and directions.

Co-Parenting Classes

We provide a safe, non-threatening environment for children to visit with non-custodial parents in order to maintain and improve relationships.

Supervised Visitation and Monitored Exchange

We offer an 8 Step Conflict Resolution Curriculum designed to reduce violence in the home, workplace and community. This class is offered in 8, 12 or 18 week sessions and meets the requirement for court ordered Anger Management Classes.  It can also be specifically tailored to meet the needs of your organization and be offered in-house.

Conflict Resolution/Anger Management Classes

What types of Training do you offer?

We provide individuals and businesses with the necessary skills and training to handle in-house conflict. We will design a program to meet the needs of your organization and can include specific training in Mediation Skills or Conflict Resolution Techniques.

Tell me more about your Mediation Skills training? 

This training is designed for organizations wishing to develop or enhance the peer mediation skills of their employees. It is tailored to meet the specific needs of your organization. Please call us for more information.

Tell me more about your Conflict Resolution Training? 

Our 8 Step Conflict Resolution Curriculum is designed to reduce violence in the home, workplace and community. It can be specifically tailored to meet the needs of your organization’s conflict issues and be offered in-house.

Training Opportunities

What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?

In mediation, the neutral third party listens to all sides of the issue and provides assistance and encouragement to the parties to resolve their own dispute. With arbitration, the neutral third party renders a decision for the parties after hearing all sides of the conflict. Disputants in mediation are empowered to negotiate for themselves and to jointly agree on an outcome. In arbitration, the disputants rely on the arbitrator for determining the outcome.

Arbitration Services

Are there other instances where I can use your services?

In general mediation can be used to resolve any type of conflict. Other examples of the types of disputes we have mediated include: Neighbor vs. Neighbor, Contractor vs. Client, and buyer vs. seller concerning real estate matters.


Other Mediation Services