A mediation service enables individuals in dispute to work together and with a neutral third party (the mediator) to define the issues, explore solutions and reach practical, mutually satisfactory agreements. This resolution process is designed to prevent conflict from escalating and save the parties time, money and emotional distress. Mediation services can be provided by a number of entities including courts, government, community programs and private mediation practitioners.
Most people involved in a dispute do not need to have a good relationship with each other in order to participate in mediation. However, the participants in a dispute should be prepared to put aside any preconceived ideas or biases they might have about the other side. They should also come to the mediation prepared to be open to new ideas and to work toward a resolution that benefits both parties.
It is important to select a mediator who has experience working with the type of dispute you are in. When you select a mediator for your case it is a good idea to meet with them to get a feel for their style and approach to the process. You may want to ask the mediator what their fee structure is, and whether they are available to meet with you on a day and at a time that works for both of you.
During the mediation, the participants will often take turns sharing information about their perspective of the conflict and listening to each other’s viewpoint. The goal is to reach a mutually satisfying resolution that will allow both sides to close a difficult chapter in their lives and build a foundation for future problem-solving. The hope is that the resolution reached in mediation will not only resolve the current issue, but will also preserve any remaining positive aspects of the relationship between the parties.
The costs associated with mediation are usually far less than the cost of litigating a matter through traditional legal channels. In addition, mediation sessions typically last for a shorter period of time than the typical case involving an attorney or court proceedings.
A resolution achieved in mediation is often a more lasting and better result than a decision imposed on a case by a judge or jury, which can become outdated, unenforceable or inconsistent with the actual circumstances of a particular situation. Furthermore, the participants in mediation have a great deal of control over the resolution that is created, which allows for creativity and flexibility in crafting a solution that will work for them.
Mediation is a voluntary process, and it does not guarantee that the case will be resolved or that you will leave the mediation session satisfied. Ultimately, the decision to mediate or not is a personal choice that should be made after consulting with a lawyer experienced in resolving disputes through mediation. The decision to mediate is a good one for most disputes, but you should not attempt it if you think a trial or appeal is the best option for your situation.