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Timing is Everything...Or is it? Does the Timing of Mediations Matter? - Family Law News

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Family Law News

Posted on: Jan 28, 2021

By Joan Champagne, White and Champagne

The other day, I participated in a an all-day mediation. On a Friday. The case did not settle. Later that night, the mediator sent me an email apologizing that the case did not settle. (No apologies were necessary; the mediator did a fine job). I began ruminating about the day and the case, which had a lot of moving parts. I wondered if my client was exhausted by the end of the day. Perhaps having the weight of the week on my client’s shoulders was not conducive to an amicable resolution. Or, with different parties and another set of facts, would the looming deadline of a waning Friday afternoon have spurred a quick settlement?

I read an article that said Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. is the best time of the week to schedule a meeting. But with mediations usually starting no later than 1:30 p.m., this is impractical. Still, it may be helpful to be more mindful in the scheduling of the mediations.

Be mindful of the client’s schedule. Does the client have a big project due at work the next day, and may be distracted? Does the client have full weekends and is usually tired by the time Monday morning rolls around? Does the client work nights and is just getting off of a shift? Does the client have a hard stop time of 3 p.m. to pick up a child? Is the client (or the other party) emotionally ready to mediate? Or will scheduling the case another month out make resolution more likely? We all have to work within the confines of combined schedules, but it is at least worth it to ask the questions of our clients.

Be mindful of the mediator’s schedule. If we know that our mediator is coming off of a seven-day jury trial, do we really want to mediate the next day? Mediators: are you considering your own obligations when scheduling a mediation? What about the dynamics with the parties and the facts of the matter before you? A quick check of MyCase could yield important information that may lead you to decide that the parties are amicable enough to mediate any day of the week...or perhaps Tuesday afternoon at 2:30.

Be mindful of our own schedules. Finally, as practitioners, we need to be mindful of our own schedules, and the same suggestions above apply. 

The timing of a mediation is not necessarily crucial to its success. As mediators and practitioners, we’ve all had ill-timed mediations that were rousingly successful and mediations that were perfectly timed where negotiations collapsed. But the timing of mediations is something to consider when scheduling a mediation in order to facilitate the amicable resolution of a case.

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