Mediation FAQ

What is mediation?

Mediation is a negotiation conducted by a neutral third person to help resolve a conflict.  Participation is voluntary.  The process is private and confidential.  The participants control whether to settle and on what terms.

What if my case is not ready for mediation?

At Innovative Mediation, we understand that disputes at any stage can benefit from mediation and have structured our services to fit your needs.  We offer three levels of service to meet your dispute at its stage of conflict:

1. STRATEGIC FACILITATION  - to work through competing interests or differing perspectives toward a common goal.  Participants in this level of conflict share a desired end result, but may disagree on the best course of action. Generally, the participants want to avoid conflict but are stuck in indecision and lack of consensus. 

Mediation is appropriate at this stage to keep all interested parties in alignment, untangle the issues that are causing impasse, and propel forward movement.


  • Business partners in disagreement on management decisions or direction to achieve long term goals
  • Parties jointly owning income property agreeing upon a structure for decision-making
  • Non-profit organizations facing governance crisis
  • Siblings managing the parents’ estate


2. CONFLICT RESOLUTION – to resolve conflicts and avoid going to court.  Participants in this level of dispute have attempted to resolve their differences without success and are now considering more formal proceedings, possibly a lawsuit.  Though the parties are reluctant to pursue litigation, due to the uncertainty and expense, further negotiations seem futile.  Some action must be taken to prevent continued injury or injustice.  Preserving good relations with the other side is a secondary consideration. 

Mediation is sometimes overlooked by participants as pointless.   However, the stalemate is often the result of miscommunication, lack of information, or personal animosity.  Innovative Mediation guides the parties through the confusion to clarity:  the best mindset from which to make reasoned decisions and reach a sustainableresolution.


  • Claims of broken business or real property agreements
  • Inheritance disputes
  • Neighbor Disputes
  • Business Dissolutions and Reorganizations
  • Conflicts within the workplace


3. LITIGATION MEDIATION – to reach a settlement during a lawsuit.  Once parties find themselves in court, they are invested financially and emotionally to a victory that is in the hands of a judge or jury.  The cost escalates rapidly and our judicial system, though one of the best in the world, can only deliver a decision.  Justice, peace, and reconciliation rarely coincide with the verdict.  Parties are often left financially and emotionally bankrupt, frustrated by a system that is overburdened and failing.

You deserve better.  Innovative Mediation responds to the needs left unsatisfied by our legal system.  We work to understand the history and motivation underlying the conflict so that the resolution reflects the real interests of the participants.  We change the conversation from win-lose to best result possible and we apply over 20 years of experience in the following areas to structure settlements that exceed what the judicial system can offer:


  • Business and Commercial Disputes
  • Real Estate, Land Use, Construction
  • Trust and Probate litigation
  • Winery and Vineyard issues

How does the process work?

1. To get the process started, either:

-Complete and submit your contact information and a brief explanation of the dispute on the Contact page or
-Email us with your name, concern and contact number
-Or, call us at 707-942-6755

We will respond to you and answer any questions you have about the process and your dispute.  All of our communications are confidential and do not commit you to proceed with mediation.

2. If you decide to go forward, Innovative Mediation presents the mediation opportunity to the other side and confirms that all parties are ready for mediation.

3. Once all parties have been contacted and agree to mediate, Innovative Mediation will provide each party access to a secure and private portal and a Mediation Resource Package that contains the information and documents you need to begin.

4. The mediator interviews the participants regarding goals, priorities, needs and expectations; collects information about the conflict, history of proceedings and negotiations; and reviews relevant documents and legal issues. 

5. The mediator proposes a structure and timeline for the mediation. It may include joint sessions with all parties, private sessions, brainstorming, consideration of proposed best and worst case scenarios, progress reports, and evaluation of proposals. The process is fluid and allows for creativity and flexibility toward reaching a fair and sustainable negotiated settlement or resolution.

6. Once consensus is reached, the participants sign a binding contract that identifies the terms of agreement. The mediator may follow up to ensure that the resolution is successfully implemented.

Why should I choose Innovative Mediation? 

Experience. Your mediator is a licensed attorney with over 20 years experience in business, real estate, trusts and estate matters, including substantial experience in wine industry and vineyard related matters.

FlexibilityYou have the choice of participating in-person at our comfortable office suite or online from your home or office computer. We have an efficient and systematized process for registering, submitting information, and participating via a secure online portal.

Convenience. Pre-scheduled sessions and online participation allow you to minimize interruption to your busy schedule, and avoid travel and down time of your attorney.

Results. A result that is fair and sustainable based on your priorities and objectives.

How is Innovative Mediation superior? 

Innovative Mediation offers a choice between face-to-face sessions and on-line access.  We employ web conferencing technology, mediator chat, online case management and document submittal, and secure client portals to bring mediation to parties located in different parts of the state or country and accommodate busy schedules.

Additionally, Innovative Mediation focuses on listening to the needs and concerns of all parties involved, without imparting bias or forcing a decision, while creatively aiming toward a mutually agreed upon outcome.

Innovative Mediation provides personalized, responsive service unavailable from large national mediation and arbitration groups bogged down by backlog and bureaucracy.  Our secure Internet based portal offers trusted and expert mediation resources and personalized information to support you in the process.

What if I don’t like the proposed settlement? 

You have complete control and veto rights over every term of the settlement – nothing can be imposed on you. The mediator does not decide what is "fair" or "right" and does not assess blame. Rather, the mediator attempts to bring opposing sides together by defining issues and eliminating obstacles to resolution by moderating and guiding the process to avoid overt hostility and malice. The mediator may seek concessions from each side during the mediation process.

What if I already signed an agreement to mediate through American Arbitration Association (AAA) or Judicial Arbitration and Mediation System (JAMS)? 

No problem. Parties to an agreement are always free to change the terms of the agreement by mutual consent. Mediation is a voluntary process and if both parties are ready to mediate, they are free to choose any mediator or process they prefer. The MediationResource Package is designed to address this issue. 

How is mediation different from arbitration or litigation?

With the judicial method, each party typically hires an attorney to research and argue the merits of every issue in the dispute. Eventually the case is argued in front of a judge or jury who decides a winner. The parties give their power and control away to a judge or jury. Litigation is oriented to arguing over the past, is confrontational and often leaves parties angry and bitter. Litigation produces a “winner takes all” model for conflict resolution; it is expensive, time-consuming, risky and public. The courtroom and all filings are open.

Arbitration and mediation are both alternatives to litigation. Arbitrators and mediators are both neutral third parties. However, the role of the arbitrator is to decide the outcome of the dispute, much in the way a judge would. Parties to arbitration may still go through a protracted period of argument of the issues, discovery, and case preparation. Arbitration is also focused on the past. The arbitrator decides the winner, making arbitration as risky as litigation. It can be almost as expensive and time consuming as litigation. While arbitration is usually confidential, it often lacks the protection of appeal and right to a jury trial.

Innovative Mediation is the preferred way to settle disputes, particularly for those who are willing to take a break from hostile confrontation to discuss and negotiate a compromise. Mediation is less expensive, less time consuming and less adversarial than litigation or arbitration. Parties are given an opportunity to discuss their practical concerns and objectives so that a mutually satisfactory agreement can be constructed. The parties remain in control of the process and the result. Mediation is future oriented and is about moving past the conflict toward a resolution. The mediation process and all records are kept confidential.

What is the role of the mediator? 

  • Your mediator is neutral.  You can trust that your mediator will be objective and unbiased.  You mediator guides negotiations and offers constructive suggestions to maintain progress.
  • Your mediator is experienced in the subject of your dispute.  Innovative Mediation mediators understand the law and complex issues that may impact your particular case. This allows Innovative Mediation to guide you toward a fair and sustainable agreement.
  • Your mediator will not advocate for either side, but will ensure that your concerns are adequately addressed will be responsive to your concerns.  Innovative Mediation provides personalized service so that your mediator listens to you and understands your objectives at the outset.  Innovative Mediation offers packages that are tailored to accommodate your needs and schedule.

How long does mediation take?

Every case is different and the length of mediation depends on the complexity of the dispute, the ability and willingness of the parties to communicate openly, and the commitment of the parties to reach resolution. Typically, mediations may last from one-half to three days. Mediation is concentrated effort toward settlement and is much quicker than litigation, which often takes months or years to conclude. 

How do I know mediation will be successful? 

Innovative Mediation cannot guarantee results -- it is in the hands of the parties. However, research shows that mediation of contract or commercial claims has an 87 percent success rate.  Consensual mediation has a 10 percent greater success rate than mandatory (court ordered) mediation. Even if your mediation does not result in a settlement agreement, many disputes resolve shortly following the mediation session because the process opens communication and understanding.

How much will it cost? 

It depends.  The cost of your mediation is affected by the stage and complexity of the dispute, the number of parties involved, the anticipated duration of the mediation sessions, and the nature of the case.  For an evaluation of your case, submit the contact information and a representative from Innovative Mediation will contact you to get the details we need to assess the likely duration and cost.

The mediation process takes much less time than either arbitration or litigation.  As a result, a successful mediation saves you time and money. Both parties will need to make a meaningful investment in the mediation and be committed to the process to achieve the best possible result. Your mediator will be focused intently on working with each party to meet their concerns and goals. This high level of service and commitment requires time, dedication and expertise.

Each party will pay one-half of the mediation costs and expenses (unless separate arrangements are made).  Innovative Mediation charges each case a flat fee, depending on the package you choose, needs of the parties, and the complexity of the issues. The cost of the mediation will be determined after reviewing your case information and disclosed to you prior to your agreement to engage Innovative Mediation.  You will know before committing what your investment in the mediation will be.

How can I be assured of confidentiality?

All discussions concerning the mediation and negotiations are confidential and cannot be used in a subsequent proceeding.  The confidentiality of mediation is protected by law. 

California Evidence Code Section 1119:  No evidence of anything said or any admission made for the purpose of, in the course of, or pursuant to, a mediation or a mediation consultation is admissible or subject to discovery, and disclosure of the evidence shall not be compelled. . . . No writing . . . that is prepared for the purpose of, in the course of, or pursuant to, a mediation or a mediation consultation, is admissible or subject to discovery, and disclosure of the writing shall not be compelled. . . All communications, negotiations or settlement discussions by and between participants in the course of a mediation or a mediation consultation shall remain confidential.”

Innovative Mediation also requires that the parties agree in writing to confidentiality as a condition to participation.

What happens if we don’t settle?

Few matters go unresolved when parties commit to mediation in good faith.  If no resolution is achieved, the parties have a number of options.  Sometimes, a pause to gather more information or consult with legal counsel followed by a subsequent mediation session breaks the impasse.  If settlement is simply not possible, either party can initiate (or return to) litigation or, in some cases, arbitration.  No legal rights are lost by having attempted to settle the matter through mediation.  At worst, the parties have a better assessment of their position and the perspective of the other side.

What do I need to participate in online Mediation?

You will need a computer or tablet with a microphone, speakers and HD webcam, and access to high speed internet connection.  You may be able to rent a computer and equipment for the duration of the mediation if you do not have your own.  You will also need an email account and the ability to download and read pdf files.  Innovative Mediation will work with you to determine whether you are adequately equipped to participate online.

Get Started.