Mediation Principles

Mediation Resolves Disputes


Understanding the Law is an Important Reality for Enforcement and Commitment to any Agreement Reached


Is it helpful to consider all possible solutions available to resolve your conflict. You can file a complaint and hire attorneys to manage the conflict and seek solutions. Litigation, or worse, doing nothing, are alternatives to resolving your dispute in mediation. In court or in mediation, the law can play a role in decisions you make. For that reason, it is beneficial to educate yourselves about the possible application of law or hire a professional mediator with experience in law and conflict resolution. Judge Gray has both.


Understanding what the courts might do or decide can inform in a variety of ways. For instance, some may benefit from knowing the protections that the law and court can provide in your mediation process. Understanding what the courts might do or decide can inform in a variety of ways. Mediators are not required to know the law or possible common application of law in any circumstance. Understanding basic principles of law can act as a reference point for decision-making, demonstrate an expression of underlying principles, act as a concrete measure of values, and finally, strengthen the parties’ commitment to their agreement as well as its enforceability.


Judge Gray began practicing law in 1985, took the bench in 1995, retired in 2001, and was conferred a doctorate in clinical psychology in 2015. Her education and combined experience in three distinct professional roles, each dominated with a focus in understanding, communication, and resolution, provides additional resources uncommon in professional mediators.


Mediation Process


Mediation usually begins with a discussion of the conflict that brought the parties to mediation. Through speaking and listening everyone seeks to develop an understanding of the conflict and interests of the parties. The second step is to develop options that meet the interests of each party and all stakeholders. The final step is a settlement agreement or Marriage Settlement Agreement, that if agreed to and signed, becomes a binding enforceable legal contract and may be presented to the court for orders under certain circumstances.  Most people find the mediation process very helpful, are happy with the results, appreciate the amount of control over the process when making decisions without pressure and deadlines, and find it more economical and efficient than they had expected.


Family and Divorce Mediation


Judge Gray has experience with large and small family groups struggling with fractured relationships, parental care, custody/support issues, and couples contemplating or having decided to divorce.  No matter the issues, the process can be made simpler and over sooner if each party is willing to act in good faith. Mediation is the new collaborative frontier that avoids unnecessary legal fees and arrives at a settlement agreement can be filed with the court, often without a single court appearance.


Style – Narrative and Client Based


Judge Gray’s mediation style is primarily narrative and client based. She is not in favor of exerting strong direction or influence and instead prefers developing a broad understanding of issues and possibilities from the parties point of view. As a trained mediator, she is duty bound and skilled in maintaining a safe space for communication and understanding, together with facilitating a thorough understanding of the conflict.


For a mediator to understand a conflict as the parties themselves experience it, is not always easy. Judge Gray has been trained and become adept at listening non-judgmentally, probing for clarity, detecting underlying concerns, efforts to disentangle and manage the flow of communications, reframe salient meanings, and look for openings to promote dialogue, self-reflection, mutual respect and the discovery of new options. Mediation is a process of developing a mutual understanding of the conflict and when that happens, it is her experience that solutions become apparent and arise almost organically. The process takes time depending on the issues, duration of the current conflict and level of transparency.


There are many reasons why mediation is a client-directed process. It is the participants themselves who know what their particular conflicts are, therefore they are encouraged to talk openly about how they see the problem and describe their experience. Mediation emphasizes careful exploration, understanding of how disputants see things and finding opportunities to encourage (but never to press) movement in certain directions. Developing a sincere understanding of mutual and individual interests can forge the path to long-term and effective conflict resolution.


Why use a Mediator?


The legal issues you face are secondary to figuring out your future needs, something the courts legitimately have little time to consider and lawyers are expensive. Typically the basic problems seen in family mediations are centered around failed or poor communication and less that advantageous listening/expressive/self-advocacy skills. Mediation works well with couples and family groups who are in crisis and want to avoid fracturing critical family relationships; divorce; divorced couples who failed at marriage and wish to succeed at co-parenting; or couples who have decided to divorce and want to avoid protracted legal proceedings and traditional attorney’s fees and costs.


In most, if not all relationship disputes the time investment, fees, and process of developing understanding and consensus are similar. As an experienced educated mediator, Judge Gray would welcome the opportunity to help resolve your current dispute. Give her a call for a 30-minute consultation at no cost or obligation to you.





HON. PATRICIA GRAY, (RET.) JD, PSYD~ (707) 539-2825~