Perhaps the best understanding of “mediation” is to think of it as “assisted negotiation.”
Mediation is a method of negotiating that involves a trained “facilitator,” the mediator. He or she is trained in this method of negotiating and should also possess legal expertise in the subject matter in dispute. Lawyers, who work daily in the realm of “conflict resolution,” are often trained and certified mediators.
One “mediation myth” is that “to mediate” or “to hire a lawyer” are mutually exclusive. Mediation does not eliminate the need to be represented by a lawyer. Family disputes usually involve multiple legally complex issues. Unrepresented parties are likely to mis-step, often with catastrophic results, if unrepresented by competent counsel. When you negotiate your family dispute, whether in a mediated setting or otherwise, you will be wise to have a lawyer’s wisdom and advice to lean upon.
The advantages of mediation often include: (1) you retain control of the outcome of your case, as opposed to leaving your life in a judge’s hands; (2) you work within a more controlled environment where emotions are less likely to sidetrack negotiations, (2) you increase your chances of earlier settlement, and (3) your legal fees may be lower, as you and your attorney devote your efforts to negotiating rather than litigating.
In many states, the family court system requires parties to attempt to resolve their disputes in the mediation setting before allowing them to proceed to trial. Ask your lawyer to describe your state’s mediation requirements and programs.
Voluntary Collaborative Controlled Confidential Informed Impartial, Neutral, Balanced and Safe – Mediation is a neutral, unbiased process. The mediator cannot favor the interests of any one party over another. Nor may a mediator favor a particular result in the mediation. Your mediator is ethically obligated to acknowledge any substantive bias on issues in discussion. The mediator's role is to ensure that parties reach agreements in a voluntarily and informed manner, and not as a result of coercion or intimidation.
The information on this site is general in nature. Do not rely on any articles, postings or other information on these pages as legal advice. If you need legal advice about a particular matter, you should contact an attorney directly.