What is mediation?
It is a procedure which allows you to settle a dispute without having to go to court. It requires the assistance of a third individual who is trained and impartial and helps the two disputing parties to reach a settlement. Mediation is an alternate way of reaching a resolution in a dispute. When two or more parties are unable to resolve a dispute, mediation can be a good option. It could be a dispute which may have been filed in court or pending. Usually, cases regarding financial transactions, divorce, family matters, compensation, personal injury or any other which do not require evidence or any complex procedures, are the ones most suitable for mediation.
Mediation is also a voluntary process and can only happen if both or all parties agree. It is a confidential process where the outcome or the discussion is not disclosed to any person or party not involved in the dispute. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement then they can opt to go to court to have the matter resolved. Mediation is inexpensive, prompt and a simpler procedure as compared to litigation.
What is a mediator?
A mediator is a neutral third party who works with the disputing parties to resolve the dispute and reach a settlement. The mediator facilitates and supervises the process. He/she helps the disputing parties find common ground so that there are no unrealistic expectations. The role of a mediator is to convey the information to the parties, voice their concerns and define the problems. A mediator has to be a person with patience and perseverance. He/she also needs to have an arsenal of various negotiating methods and the quality of effective listening. However, the mediator can only be a facilitator and does not have any decision making authority. In some jurisdictions, the mediator is a lawyer but cannot give legal advice while in the role of mediator.
There are various reasons why disputing parties prefer mediation over litigation or any other dispute resolution.
- Affordability: The cost of mediation is far less as compared to litigation. A mediator charges less per hour than a lawyer.
- Availability: mediators usually offer services in the evenings, weekdays and weekends. While lawyers have fixed working hours, mediators are usually more personal and readily available to clients.
- Privacy: There are no spectators during the mediation process, unlike a courthouse. Whatever is discussed during mediation cannot be revealed by the mediator to another party or made public.
- Personal participation: Unlike litigation, mediation encourages the parties to solve their own problems. One of the biggest benefits of mediation is that it allows user-friendly resolutions to a dispute.
- Preservation of relationship between parties: Another advantage of mediation and letting the disputing parties find a workable solution between them is that it promotes healing where one of the parties feels aggrieved. In some cases, the working relationship even improves after mediation.
Once a resolution is reached the agreement may be written or oral. Depending on the jurisdiction it could also be legally binding. Most mediation agreements are considered enforceable. If a resolution cannot be reached then the parties can decide to pursue the matter through litigation or any other forum. A major benefit of mediation is that it allows the parties to focus on the underlying issues which caused the dispute, rather than on traditional legal issues. Mediation lays stress on how the dispute can be resolved, instead of proving who was at fault.
If there are pieces to your divorce that you do not agree on, before taking your issues to court, consider mediation. Aside from being a less stressful and less costly alternative to court, the benefits of mediation are countless. If you are looking for an independent paralegal to help you out with filing your divorce, book a consultation with me.