What is Mediation?
Mediation is an alternative to litigation which gives the parties to work together with the assistance of a trained mediator to negotiate their own resolution thereby allowing parties to avoid court and other adversarial court proceedings. Mediation is a voluntary method of settling disputes where people try to work out or settle their disputes with the help of a trained, impartial person, called a mediator.
In mediation, the decision-making authority rests with the parties themselves and not the mediator. Recognizing variations in styles and cultural differences, the role of the mediator involves assisting the parties in defining and clarifying issues, reducing obstacles to communication, exploring possible solutions and reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement. Mediation presents the opportunity to peacefully express conflict and to hear each other out even when an agreement is not reached. Mediation is often referred to as no-fault resolution because the goal is to reach a solution fairly and quickly, not to decide who is right or wrong in a costly courtroom battle.
What is a Mediator?
A mediator is a skilled neutral leader of the mediation conference. The mediator helps the parties communicate and explore options with the goal of reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. The mediator is not a therapist or marriage counsellor. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties. The mediator does not determine who is right or who is wrong. The mediator leads the parties in problem-solving.
What kind of Legal issues can be Mediated?
Mediation is useful in a very broad range of circumstances; it can help resolve almost any civil (non-criminal) dispute that would otherwise go to court or arbitration.
How long does mediation Take?
Mediation requires enough time for the two parties to be able to explain, in an uninterrupted fashion, their own perceptions of the current disputed issues and their ideas about how to keep the problem solved in the future. The amount of time necessary to accomplish this varies, depending especially on what issue is being mediated. For example, in divorce matters where the parties have already decided to divorce but have been unable to settle their financial issues and problems involving the children, mediation generally requires between 3 and 10 sessions, normally held every week or every other week. If the parties cooperate in providing discovery and are able to schedule appointments weekly, the entire process can be completed in less than 2 months.
Mediation works for many reasons. Mostly, mediation works because the parties want to settle their differences instead of having a judge do it for them. No one knows their problems better than the parties involved; therefore, they are the best persons to make the decisions. In family cases, divorce can be difficult on everyone involved – parents, children and extended families. Family mediation can be a healing process that enhances communication and cooperation among family members as they fulfill their individual and joint responsibilities in new and creative ways.
What are the benefits of Mediation?
The primary benefit of mediation is a fair resolution of the issues, but mediation is also:
- Confidential – There is no public record; mediation sessions are held in private and on a “without prejudice” basis.
- Cost Effective – Mediation can reduce legal costs and utilize less staff time. Generally, mediation can cost far less than litigation.
- Flexible – The parties set their own schedule. Mediation permits parties to fashion remedies designed to fit the unique needs, values and circumstances of the parties, permitting “win/win” solutions. Mediation allows the parties to retain control of the situation and promotes communication and cooperation. The parties themselves decide the outcome.
- Gentle – With the guidance of a professional in dispute resolution modelling active listening skills, parties are encouraged to communicate in more effective ways. This diffuses tensions and misunderstanding that impede negotiations; and, in permitting free, clearer expression, helps parties find satisfaction in being heard. Communication skills and insight learned through the mediation process last well beyond the resolution of a single dispute.
- Quick – Mediation sessions can be scheduled early in the dispute and at times acceptable to the parties, thereby increasing the likelihood of a prompt settlement. It avoids the delays and frequent non-productive court appearances associated with our over-burdened court systems.
- Risk Free – Anyone can leave at any time.