New Hampshire Judicial branch seal
Image: Find Your Court!

 

Probate Court Mediation

See Probate Court Administrative Order 11 for details.

You may contact the Office of Mediation & Arbitration at:

address:   45 Chenell Dr.
Concord NH, 03301
telephone:   (603) 271-6418
email:   mediation@courts.state.nh.us

Q. What is the purpose of the Probate Mediation Program?

A:  The Probate Court implemented its mediation program to increase access to justice; to increase parties’ participation in court processes and their satisfaction with the outcome; to allow cases to settle more quickly with less expense to the parties; to reduce future litigation by the same parties; and to expand dispute resolution resources to the parties.  Probate Court Administrative Order 11 establishes the mediation policies of the Probate Court.

Q:  What is Mediation?

A:  Mediation is an informal process where parties try to resolve a dispute without the hostility that is sometimes associated with going to court.  In mediation, the parties meet in a private, confidential setting to work out a solution to their problem with the help of a neutral third person, the mediator.  A mediator does not decide who is right or wrong.  The mediator does not force the disputing parties to reach agreement or to accept particular settlement terms.  The mediator helps each side to better understand their situation.  The mediator fosters a problem solving atmosphere and lessens the temptation to engage in unproductive behavior.

The mediator ensures that each of the parties to the dispute has an opportunity to be heard and understood.  The mediator encourages  the parties  to create a solution that meets their individual needs.

Q.  What are the basic principles of mediation?

A:  Mediation is based upon principles of communication, negotiation, facilitation and problem solving that emphasizes:  

            a.  The needs and interest of the parties

            b.  Fairness

            c.  Procedural flexibility

            d.  Privacy and confidentiality

            e.  Full disclosure

            f.  Self determination

Q. How does mediation work?

A:  Dealing with disputes is often painful, and petitioning the court may feel like a last resort.  Mediation eases the difficulty of the court process. It gives the parties a chance to talk together about the problems that prompted the petition.  It provides a way to work out a solution that addresses those problems in a way that is acceptable to everyone involved.  It can reduce stress and uncertainty.

Q. What are the benefits of mediation?

A:  At mediation you have a chance to present your ideas in an informal, private setting with the support and advice of your attorney, if you have one.  It is a time for you to be heard and to listen to others.

In mediation you have a better opportunity to control the outcome of your dispute.

The mediator is impartial and trained to help you and the other party talk about your needs and differences so that you can work things out together.

Mediation may help you reach agreements that will let you get on with your life and possibly keep you out of court in the future.

By discussing your options in mediation you may discover choices you did not know you had.

Mediation may help improve communications and permit the parties to find better ways to deal with this conflict.

Costs associated with mediation may be lower than those experienced for prolonged litigation.  

Back to top

Q. How do I prepare for mediation?

A:  Mediation deals not only with your legal claim but also deals with underlying issues that are important to you.  It is important that you understand the nature of your dispute and what you really want to happen when the case is resolved.

If you have an attorney, it is important to discuss what your reasonable expectations for an outcome would be should your case go to court.  You can, therefore, compare your options at mediation with what would be available through litigation.

It is important to come to the mediation session with an open mind, ready to consider new options that may not have been raised previously.  It is also important to be willing to share information with the other parties and to work together towards reaching an understanding that would be acceptable to each of you.

Back to top

Q. What happens during mediation?

A:  At the start of a mediation session, the mediator will explain how mediation works and will answer your questions.

The mediator will ask each of you to state your views, express your feelings, and describe what you would like to have happen in your case.

The mediator may ask to meet with you alone (and with your lawyer if you have one) so you can talk more comfortably.  If you do have an attorney, you may take a break and talk to your attorney privately at any time.

If an agreement is reached, it will be put in writing and signed by all parties.  Later, the agreement will be presented to the judge who will review it and then issue a court order approving the agreement.

If an agreement can not be reached between the parties, or if one or more of the parties fails to follow through with the mediation session, the court will hear the case in a regular court hearing.  Our experience is that even when a case is not resolved through mediation, often the parties have a better understanding of the underlying issues following a mediation session, and settlement may follow outside of the mediation session.

Back to top

Q. Who are the mediators?

A:  The mediators are individuals who have been certified by the probate court based on their training and mediation experience.  A list of available Probate Court Mediators is maintained by the courts.

 

Q. What are the mediators’ qualifications?

A:  The Probate Court mediators have met the following criteria: 

  1. Completion of a 40-hour mediation process training; 

  2. Five years experience as a mediator; 

  3. Knowledge of the probate court helpful;

  4. Ability to travel regionally within New Hampshire;

  5. Ability to accept cases on a regular basis;

  6. Willingness to attend and successfully complete the 2-day training session designed for these positions;

  7. Ability to listen actively, and to use clear neutral language;

  8. Ability to analyze problems, identify and separate the issues involved, and frame these issues for resolution;

  9. Ability to deal with complex factual materials;

  10. Ability to identify and to separate the mediator’s personal values from issues under consideration;

  11. Ability to understand power imbalances;

  12. Ability to screen out non-mediation issues;

  13. Ability to help parties invent creative options;

  14. Ability to help parties make their own informed choices, and assess whether their agreement can be implemented;

  15. Familiarity with existing standards of practice covering the dispute resolution process, and with commonly encountered ethical dilemmas;

  16. Knowledge of the mediation process that will be used to resolve the dispute and the judicial or administrative adjudication process that will be used if no agreement is reached;

  17. Adherence to probate court mediation ethical standards.


Q. How do I get more information on probate mediation?

A: You may obtain more information from the Office of Mediation & Arbitration.

Back to top

Accessibility Options | FAQ | Site Map | Contact Us | N.H. Legislative Branch | N.H. Executive Branch | NH.Gov | Revised Statutes Online