One of peoples' biggest concerns when they are faced with appearing in civil court are the amounts of time, money and stress it will cost them. Contract disputes, insurance arguments, divorce and other matters are all common, and commonly require each side to foot considerable time and money. However, there may be a way to circumvent this.
Mediation may be the right choice when both parties wish to avoid the court room and are able to keep their emotions in check. While mediation might not award one party as substantial of an outcome as litigation – damages after an accident or full custody of a child, for example – it is often an effective solution to disagreements.
An alternative means of dispute resolution
In mediation, rather than appearing in court before a judge, both parties meet privately with a neutral third party – the mediator. There they can present their sides to each other and seek a resolution that satisfies both sides. The mediator’s role is to facilitate negotiation and discussion.
Mediators are not judges. Typically, they are attorneys who have received specialized training and who also have considerable experience in that area of law they are mediating. There is much greater flexibility in mediation because the involved parties have final control over the outcome, rather than a judge who may be bound to legal constraints.
It is critical to understand that for mediation to work properly, both sides will most likely have to cede some amount of ground to the other to get what they want. For example, in divorce mediation one party may request more child custody in return for accepting the other side’s credit card debt, while the other side conversely must sign over the title of their vehicle in return for family mementos.
Resolution through give-and-take
The give-and-take aspect of mediation is how mediators will try to find amicable resolutions that leave both parties feeling like they have come out ahead. And if mediation does not yield the desired outcome, leaving mediation to pursue traditional litigation is always an option.
While mediation may not be a perfect solution for every dispute, it can save all involved a significant amount of time, money and frustration when compared to court room litigation. If you have found yourself in a legal dispute and are willing to negotiate with the other party, mediation may be the alternative resolution you have been looking for.