Mediation is a private, informal dispute resolution process in which a neutral third party (mediator) helps disputing parties reach an agreement.
People need mediation anytime a dispute arises and direct negotiations seem to be going nowhere. It is time like these when people can use a neutral third party (mediator) to facilitate the discussion between the two parties and help them invent options that might not have been explored before.
Courts are not only supportive of parties wishing to mediate, but actively encourage parties to enter mediation instead of pursuing litigation. Though it is characterized as an informal process, the parties can decide to make the agreement legally binding by stipulation and the courts will recognize any agreement made under this stipulation.
Mediation sessions will usually be scheduled within a few weeks to a few months from the time it is requested. Mediation sessions will usually take up a few hours to a full day, depending on the issue. Lawsuits, on the other hand, can often take many months, and possibly years, to be resolved.
Outside of very few exceptions, anything said in mediation cannot be revealed outside of the mediation or later used in court. This is beneficial for two reasons: 1. Confidentiality allows both parties to speak freely and explore options that they wouldn’t normally consider for fear of exposure to the public, and 2. It can protect you from revealing trade secrets and/or airing “dirty laundry” in the public. In litigation, all documents and statements presented in a court proceeding are public record.
In litigation, people are more often left feeling bitter and angry about the decision that the judge or attorneys have negotiated and feel less inclined to follow through with the decision. In mediation, the parties have the opportunity to speak to each other and not through representation. In doing this, they have the opportunity to have a say in the resolution that is reached. Studies show that people are far more likely to follow rules that they have a hand in crafting. In this vein, people’s idea of what is fair has a better chance of finding its way into the agreement.
One of the side effects of litigation is that while you are waiting for your day in court, there are court filing fees and attorney’s fees to be paid. These fees can be exorbitant and can add up very quickly.
Mediation is a great choice when it comes to a dispute with another person with whom you need to remain on good terms, whether by choice or circumstance. In the case of family members, co-workers, landlords, tenants, or others with whom you have an ongoing business or personal relationship, lawsuits can polarize and even irreparably damage these relationships. In mediation, the informal setting and confidential nature allow people the space to speak freely, which can lead to a deeper understanding of the issues and each other.
If mediation is something that you are interested in, please contact me and we can schedule a consultation.