Mediation, often used in respects to the law, is defined as an activity in which a neutral third party, the mediator, guides and regulates structured discussion to facilitate reaching consensus on a disputed issue. Two parties, who have a difference of opinion and are in need of resolution, will often be asked to use a mediator to solve their problem. The neutral third-party’s intention is to then help the other parties resolve a dispute and come to an agreement. When one agrees to a mediator, it does not mean they are obligated to accept any proposed agreements.
Why is mediation used for dispute resolution over other channels? There are many reasons, they include:
• It is often a less expensive route to follow. A mediator may charge a fee but the mediation process typically takes less time than moving a case through standard legal channels. A case in the hands of a lawyer and the court system could take months or even years to resolve while a case in mediation can typically achieve resolution in a matter of hours.
• The process of mediation is a confidential process. Whatever happens in mediation remains strictly confidential, as opposed to a court hearing, which happens in public. During mediation, only the parties in dispute plus the mediator know what was discussed. Confidentially is so strict in mediation that the legal system cannot force a mediator to testify in court as to the content or progress of mediation. Most mediators go as far as to destroy their notes once mediation is finished. The only exceptions to such confidentiality are in cases that involve child abuse or actual or threatened criminal acts.
• Mediation can offer multiple and flexible possibilities for resolving a dispute. In contrast, when a case is taken to court, the parties are often given a resolution by the judge or jury. In mediation, the parties have control over the resolution. Solutions are often those, which the parties have agreed upon mutually and discussed thoroughly, therefore they are often more creative and fair. Another benefit to having both parties agree to a resolution is that typically neither party must force compliance upon the other. Because both parties have agreed upon the solution rather than a judge, the chances that the parties will comply are much higher.
• Coming to a resolution is often higher during mediation as both parties are agreeing to a mutual endeavor. Parties in mediation usually seek it out because they want to resolve a dispute. With both parties ready to move forward along with a willingness to understand each other’s underlying issues to the dispute, gives the added benefit of preserving the relationship the parties had before the dispute.
• A good mediator helps both parties think outside of the box and reduce high emotions. Mediators are trained in conflict resolution and in working with difficult situations. The mediator will not give legal advice but guide both parties through the process of solving a problem. A mediator may or may not suggest alterative solutions to the dispute but help both parties come up with solutions on their own that suits each best.
Mediation is used in many situations, especially when it comes to parties who want to preserve their relationship. This can include family conflict such as divorce, premarital agreements, alimony, child support, family business, estate disputes and end-of-life issues. Mediation can also be valuable for conflicts in the workplace such as wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, grievances and labor management. Landlord/tenant conflicts are often brought into mediation as well as homeowners association problems or contracts of any kind.
While there are no guarantees a conflict will be resolved, mediation is often the preferred choice of the legal system.
“Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com”