FAQs

What do mediators do?
We help people with difficult conversations about the subjects that are hard to bring up without the assistance of a neutral third party. We help people in conflict arrive at solutions that are fair to all parties involved.

How does mediation work?
The parties agree to meet with a mediator in a private setting for a confidential discussion. Typically, one of the parties describes what’s going on, without interruption. Then the other person gets a turn. Mediators are trained to help people with difficult conversations and provide a constructive exchange about how the dispute might be resolved. The mediators may ask questions to help clarify the situation and to encourage each party to identify possible solutions to the problem. If the parties reach an agreement, the mediators help them produce a written agreement.

MVMP uses a co-mediation model and normally assigns two mediators to each case.

Do mediators give advice or just help us talk?
Mediators are trained neutrals who encourage the parties to work out their own solutions. They help parties explore options, but they don’t give advice.

I’m interested in mediation, but I don’t know about the other person. Do I have to talk to him/her or will you do it?
If you prefer, we can call the other party, explain what mediation is about, and see if they’re willing to give it a try.

Do you have translators?
Yes. We can provide a translator for Portugese

How long does mediation take?
Many disputes are resolved in less than an hour, but we recommend that the parties allow two hours for a session. Some complicated disputes may require more than one session.

What kind of disputes can you handle?
Many disputes arise from miscommunication or a lack of communication. These can usually be resolved with the help of mediation. They may involve family members, neighbors, landlords and tenants, contractors and clients, co-workers, employers and employees — almost anyone.

Do you handle divorce, child custody, child support, and that kind of thing?
Yes.

Can you help mediate other family issues?
Yes. We work with adult families on issues related to elder care, inheritance and shared property, second marriages and combined families, and more. We can also help mediate conflicts between parents and teenagers.

I’m the defendant (or plaintiff) going to court in a Small Claims case. I would like to try mediation. Can you help?
Mediators from the Martha’s Vineyard Mediation Program attend almost every Small Claims session at the Edgartown District Court. At the beginning of each session, the Clerk-Magistrate explains that mediation is an option. If both plaintiff and defendant agree to give it a try, they meet with mediators in a separate, private room. If the parties reach an agreement — which they often do — the Clerk-Magistrate reviews and signs off on it. If they don’t, their case will be heard by the Clerk-Magistrate the same day. There is no charge for Small Claims mediation.

How much does mediation cost?
The Martha’s Vineyard Mediation Program is committed to making mediation affordable for everyone who wants to use our services. The cost is per person per session. The average length of a session is two hours. In most cases, the parties are able to reach an agreement in one session.

Where are mediation sessions held?
Small Claims sessions take place at the courthouse in Edgartown. Most other sessions are held at the MV Mediation Program office at 15 Merchants Way, Suite 5, Vineyard Haven — across from the Black Dog Cafe. We are willing to conduct mediation sessions anywhere that is convenient and comfortable for both parties, and where confidentiality can be assured.