What is mediation?
Mediation is an alternative form of conflict resolution. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator, with a goal of structuring and guiding the conversation towards a mutually acceptable settlement. Mediation may or may not be court ordered, but the agreement is voluntary. In a private mediation (one not court ordered), participation is fully voluntary.
How should I prepare for mediation?
Mediation works best when all parties genuinely want to work towards a solution. So one great way to prepare is to take some time trying to take the other party's perspective to understand where they are coming from. This doesn't mean that you need to agree with them, but it does mean that mediation will work best if you are willing to think about their point of view.
Particularly when financial issues are at play - it's a good idea to exchange information prior to the mediation or early on. This allows you to use your mediation time efficiently discussing the issues.
What are the benefits of mediation?
The benefits of mediation can be numerous. First, mediation is a confidential process. This allows you to arrive at a solution to your dispute in a more discrete manner, avoiding inconveniences such as subpoenas, depositions, and involving witnesses.
In addition, mediation can offer incredible cost savings. In some cases, mediation save tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is because mediation can help you avoid the costly discovery process, which often leaves parties bankrupt and/or borrowing money to fund their never-ending litigation.
Importantly, mediation allows the parties to maintain control of the process and outcome. This means that mediation can help you avoid ending up in a confusing courtroom, with a judge over whom you have no control. A skilled mediator can help you establish a procedure that everyone feels comfortable with.
What are the limitations of mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary process, and requires two willing parties. It won't work if:
1. One or both parties are committed to acting in bad faith
2. One or both parties are not interested in coming to an agreement
3. One or both parties is unable to advocate effectively on their own behalf
While mediators will look at and discuss evidence, we won't make any kind of ruling, and we won't offer legal advice. Instead, we use our expertise to help guide an agreement that's acceptable to both parties.
How do I know if mediation will work for me?
Mediations tends to work best if:
1. The parties legitimately want to come to an agreement
2. Decision makers are present at the mediation
3. Each party trusts that they can rely on the other party to carry out any agreement