How do you know if mediation is right for you? Well first you need to understand what mediation is.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process through which both parties are in control of the outcomes and resolutions to their disputes. The mediator is not a judge nor are they acting as an attorney in giving you legal advice. Their job is to act as a neutral third party to facilitate better communication and understanding between the parties. The goal of mediation is for this communication and understanding to help the parties resolve their problems on their own. This means that neither the mediator nor the other party can force you to agree to anything you do not want to agree to. It also means that mediation works best when parties are flexible and truly open to negotiation. Generally speaking, when a mediation reaches a successful settlement, neither party walks away with 100% of what they wanted, but both parties walk away with a plan forward that they can both live with.
Mediation is considered to be an alternative to court, where a Judge decides the merits of the case based on whatever limited information they have been given. Because dockets are overburdened, most Judges make decisions quickly and cannot afford to waste too much time on any one case. When you are in front of the Judge, the process is adversarial and the information presented to the Judge is typically heavily weighted towards making the each party look bad. This means the Judge is choosing between two options that each party has invested a lot of time and effort into demonstrating are poor options. In other words, the Judge is left trying to choose the lesser evil. By it’s nature, court litigation is not only adversarial it is also expensive and time consuming. While mediation is not free it is significantly less expensive then the attorney fees for litigating even though the facts and evidences are the same.
So when is mediation a good idea?
Settlements through the mediation process can often be reached through 1-3 sessions to be scheduled based on the availability of the parties. This is in stark contract to court litigation, which can take years and is at the mercy of the overbooked docket of the court.
Mediation allows the parties to take control over their own destinies instead of leaving their future in the hands of a Judge, who frankly doesn’t know them or really care about them.
Especially in situations where the parties have continuing relationship, such as co-parenting a minor child, mediation is a much more flexible and practical approach to creating a workable plan for the future. For example: when it comes to custody issues, the court will often order standard custody arrangements, which will not work for those with unusual work schedules like doctors on call, fire fighters, or those who may have to travel excessively for work. In mediation the custody schedules can be customized so they can work for both co-parents in real life.
Mediation is far less expensive then litigation
When conflicts arise primarily because of a lack of communication, parties may greatly benefit from mediation designed to help them learn the tools to communicate effectively with each other in ways they haven’t been able to do before.
Finally, because mediation allows parties to control their own plans, mediated settlement agreements are more likely to be effective and less likely to result in future conflicts. In certain situations, like parenting minor children, Co-parents will agree to meet and modify the mediated settlement agreement every few years to make adjustments as the child gets older and schedules, interests, and life in general changes.
Still not sure if mediation is right for you? Schedule an appointment and we would be happy do discuss the specifics of your situation and if mediation would be suitable.