Do We Have To Be In The Same Room to do a Mediation

In most of the family mediations I conduct, the parties are in the same room throughout the process.  However, when a party requests it, or if the dynamic between the parties is too hostile or uncomfortable, the parties can stay in different rooms for some or all of the mediation.

There are pros and cons for being in the same room during the mediation.  One recent mediation participant had this to say about the issue:  “I was in the same airspace with my wife so there was no confusion over communication…”  “[M]any people are understandably not able to sit in the same room while undergoing devastating heartbreak and grief, despite the benefits of mediation. The emotions can be too overwhelming. I was able to handle it, somehow, largely due to my fear of the cost of the alternative and for my kids, but would not expect everyone to. However, I do not think true, honest negotiation can occur in separate rooms.”

Being in the same room during mediation promotes communication and the free exchange of information and ideas.  Being in separate rooms helps prevent the escalation of conflict if a party or both parties are unable to control their anger toward the other person.   Being in separate rooms may also help a party who feels too inhibited when the other party is in the room.

The mediator may also use “caucusing” to promote settlement.  “Caucusing” means that the mediator meets with each party individually for part of the mediation.  The mediator may use this time to help the parties consider the strengths and weaknesses of their positions and have other conversations that are better handled outside of the other party’s purview.  Further, some participants feel like they can be more candid or can explore settlement options more openly when the other party is not around.

In summary, the mediation process is intended to be as comfortable as possible for the parties.  The parties are never going to be forced to be in the same room, but there may be good reasons to explore that option.

Alona M. Gottfried is a family law mediator and attorney in Arizona.  If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or  This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice.  See a legal professional before making legal decisions. 

Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

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Alona M. Gottfried, Esq.
8160 E Butherus Dr, Suite #7 Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Phone: (480) 776-8271