Mediation is a process in which the parties involved enlist the help of a trained and skilled third party to help them come to a resolution on a disagreement. The third party, known as a mediator, helps the parties involved communicate with each other, reconcile with each other and come to a mutual agreement.
The process of mediation is voluntary and confidential. This means that either of the two parties involved can withdraw from the process whenever they want to. In being confidential, this means that there are no court reporters at the meetings and the sessions are not recorded on tape. The mediator involved does not decide which side is right and which is wrong. Rather, the mediator helps the two parties, with advice, reach a solution that satisfies both sides. The majority of mediation meetings do not include lawyers although some do include both the parties and their lawyers. The mediator is not affiliated with either side and is usually an outside person meeting all of the parties involved for the first time.
In mediation, almost any type of argument or disagreement can be mediated. There are a couple of exceptions though. They are class action suits, punitive damages cases and lawsuits that require state, judicial or regulatory case law to resolve. Mediation can be used to solve divorce matters, workplace disputes, family or domestic disputes and even a case that involves thousands of dollars. Even if litigation has already begun, parties can still use mediation to resolve their differences in a less expensive and more timely matter.
Mediation can be used by anyone wanting to settle a dispute with another party but doesn't want to pay the legal costs of going to litigation or to court. The best candidates for mediation are people that live relatively close to each other. This makes it easier for the two parties involved to meet on a regular basis with the mediator and reconcile their differences.
Mediation helps the parties involved define complaints, problems and disputes. Mediation also helps the parties involved discover options and solutions, manage the resolution process in a win-win situation, facilitate mutually agreeable solutions, formulate guidelines and policy, record the agreement with written documentation and it helps to prevent future disagreements.
Mediation has become such an important option over litigation because of five main reasons. They are privacy, control, relationships, responsibility and speed. All five of these pieces of mediation make this method of resolving disputes more attractive than litigation.
Technically, no. An agreement does not have to be reached in mediation since this process is voluntary and either or both of the parties can back out of the process at any stage if they do not feel comfortable remaining in mediation. If there is no resolution reached during mediation, both parties still have the option to head to court to resolve their differences.
Before jumping into mediation, make sure both parties choose the right mediator to lead the group to the best possible solution available. The mediator should be experienced, have excellent training and an impeccable background. The mediator should also have experience in mediating the exact topics your party is arguing about and what fees are charged and how they are divided amongst the parties involved.
In the majority of judicial systems, the written document detailing the agreement reached between the two parties is legally binding. This should be discussed with a lawyer prior to attending mediation.