When it comes to resolving disputes, mediation services are an option that can help parties come up with their own mutually acceptable solution to a legal dispute without the time, expense and stress of going to court. A mediator is an impartial third party who meets with the disputing parties and facilitates negotiations in an informal setting that allows them to discuss the issues at hand and explore options for a settlement. The mediator helps to identify and develop solutions, asking questions, reframe the issues and encourage the parties to communicate with one another in order to find resolutions that are agreeable to both parties.
Often, people seeking mediation are in disagreement over a legal issue such as divorce, custody of children or property division, but it can also be used to resolve other disputes like a landlord/tenant case, a contract dispute, or even a criminal matter. Regardless of the issue, there are many benefits to choosing mediation over litigation.
Mediation is less expensive than a lawsuit, typically costing the parties an hourly fee that is shared equally between the disputing parties. The process is also faster, with a typical mediated agreement reached within a few sessions over a few weeks.
A mediator is trained to help the parties work through their differences and reach a compromise that is acceptable to both sides. Unlike a judge who will make a decision on behalf of both parties, mediation is a non-binding process that does not result in a final judgment that can be appealed. This helps to preserve relationships that would be destroyed through a lengthy trial and provides a way to put a negative chapter of the relationship behind them.
The parties involved in a dispute can choose who they want to participate in mediation, and the session can be held either in person or over the phone. This flexibility helps to ensure that a mediation can be conducted at a convenient time for both parties and may also help them save money by avoiding travel costs. The private nature of the sessions can help to reduce tensions, and the mediator will provide a calm environment and support the parties to facilitate a successful negotiation.
When considering a mediation, parties should prepare for the process by understanding what their essential and non-essential needs are, as well as their goals and interests. The more each party can understand the other side’s perspective and point of view, the more likely it will be that a resolution can be found that is satisfactory to all parties.
A good place to start is by talking to your lawyer and learning what their experience with mediation has been. In addition, there are many local and statewide organizations that offer mediation services, so it’s always worth exploring the different options available to you. You can ask your lawyer, a trusted friend or colleague for recommendations; contact your installation’s legal assistance office; or visit statewide associations to learn more about the services they provide.