What is Mediation?
Mediation, a type of alternative dispute resolution, is a method of resolving disputes in which individuals or groups in conflict meet with a neutral person (mediator) who assists them reach an agreement that resolves the dispute. The mediator remains neutral and does not judge, determine merit, or favor one side over the other.
It is a confidential voluntary process, where all agreements are reached by those most impacted by the conflict or dispute and the outcome. Mediated solutions are typically seen as "win-win" solutions to conflicts or disputes.
Some important aspects of mediation:
- Resolution is always voluntary. Those who participate generally choose to participate. And in most instances can be ended, by either party, at any time. More and more divorce or child custody cases (as well as other types of lawsuits) may be referred to mandatory mediation. Although mandatory, any agreements reached continue to be voluntary.
- The parties agree to the resolution of the dispute. No one comes out of mediation with an order to do something they have not agreed to.
- Mediated agreements are as legally binding as any contract. In addition, since the agreements are reached with the full cooperation and involvement of the parties, adherence is greater than judgments rendered through the litigation process.
- An effective mediator facilitates communication. Often those who come to mediation are absolutely unable to discuss the conflict calmly. The presence of a mediator (a neutral third party) tends to mitigate the communication difficulties, and an effective mediator actively guides the parties towards a cooperative solution.
- Mediation is cost effective. Mediation tends to be significantly less expensive than litigation. When people chose to resolve disputes through the more traditional means of each getting lawyers, the fees almost always are higher and the process significantly longer. What can take 6 to 10 hours of mediation can take ten times that amount in billable time for attorneys, which equals $10,000?s of in attorney fees.
The final agreement consists of terms that both parties willingly agree to and feel good about. The agreements reached in mediation allow the parties move forward, past the dispute, focusing on where they wish to go in life.