Along with the foreclosure complaint will be a form you can fill out to request foreclosure mediation. The Court anticipates that mediation will be requested at the beginning of the case. However, a good attorney can help you get your case referred to mediation even at late stages in a foreclosure and even after a judgment has been entered. If you do not request mediation immediately then you will need to file an answer to the foreclosure complaint within the deadline. If you file a strong answer with legal defenses and possibly counterclaims then you may have a better chance of settling your case in mediation. Although the mediation program is focused on loan modifications and not litigation of the issues, the better your defenses to the bank's claims the more incentive the bank has to try to work something out with you. It is important to remember that no one is entitled to a loan modification and that loan modifications are always at the bank's option.
Once you have requested mediation the court will schedule a pre-mediation that will take place on the 10th floor of the Justice Center. You are allowed to have an attorney represent you during mediation and in many cases if you have an attorney you will not be required to attend. If you do not have an attorney then you must attend all mediations and comply with all documents requests or the case will be referred back to foreclosure. At the pre-mediation the homeowner often submits documents to the bank's attorneys. In some cases the bank will supply a packet of information for the homeowner to fill out. There will be a mediator at the pre-mediation that will set a deadline for documents to be submitted. This deadline must be complied with or the mediator can cancel the next mediation and put the case back onto the foreclosure docket. If the financial packet has been provided to you before the pre-mediation you should complete it and bring all supporting documents to the pre-mediation.
When everything goes as planned the Court has a full mediation scheduled, but the full mediation might be postponed if all documents have not been submitted. For example, a homeowner may have submitted the requested documents at the pre-mediation but the bank may have follow up requests. Sometimes the paperwork was not filled out properly and needs to be redone. Sometimes answers to financial questions will lead to requests for additional supporting documentation from the homeowner. Until the bank has a complete packet the court can schedule one or more follow up mediations. Be very careful that you comply with any court order or you risk the mediation being cancelled. Typically the court allows the homeowners 14 days to obtain and submit documents. Sometimes the follow up mediation is by telephone. It is easier for the bank to avoid reviewing you for a loan modification when the bank representative does not have to appear in person. Try to avoid phone mediations and hire an attorney.
At the full mediation a client representative of the bank is supposed to appear in person on the 10th Floor of the Justice Center and can discuss your application for a loan modification with you in person. In an ideal situation the bank has your documents within the deadline set at the pre-mediation, no additional documents are needed, and the bank representative appears at the full mediation with a loan modification offer. In other scenarios the bank representative may request additional documents and will use that as a reason for not having an offer of a loan modification for the homeowner. In a worse scenario the bank representative can tell the homeowner that he or she has been denied for a modification. When the homeowner is denied the mediator will return the case to the active foreclosure docket. If a homeowner is denied and has an experienced attorney the homeowner may get additional chances to be reviewed for a modification because there are other programs to apply for.
Returning to mediation
Even if a homeowner is denied a loan modification it may still be possible to go back to mediation if there is a change in the homeowner's financial circumstances. A homeowner that has been denied should obtain legal representation to handle the foreclosure and raise valid legal defenses prior to returning to mediation. In addition, in some cases a homeowner has more than one mortgage where the homeowner is behind in payments. It is possible to get a modification of a second mortgage when the first mortgage has been modified. Mediation can be a very favorable process for homeowners and can result in them obtaining a loan modification even if they had previously been denied. Whenever a loan modification is offered by the bank and accepted by the homeowner the foreclosure case should be dismissed.