§ What is mediation?
Mediation is a process designed to resolve disputes. Basically, it is a negotiation facilitated by a neutral and impartial person – the mediator. When you participate in mediation, the details of the resolution of your dispute will be in your hands. The matters disclosed in mediation are confidential and cannot be repeated in court.
Mediators are professionals trained to facilitate negotiations. They are neutral among the parties and impartial about the terms of the settlements. Mediators primarily work to ensure that everyone fully presents their views and explores the possible solutions. Mediations usually begin with everyone together in one room, and frequently, mediators move people into separate rooms for private meetings when it appears necessary to split them up in order to gather information and generate offers.
Typically, mediators are attorneys, retired judges, therapists, counselors, and other professionals trained in mediation. They may have experience in the subject matter of your dispute, but more importantly, they are skilled in bringing disputes to agreements.
Mediators do not decide the outcomes of disputes. Together with the other party, you decide whether or not, and precisely how to resolve your dispute.
Although mediation is commonly considered to be a new and alternative method of dispute resolution, it has, in fact, become commonplace and mainstream. Although it is an alternative to fighting in court, the courts themselves are largely responsible for the spread of mediation and development of mediator codes of conduct. In Florida, for example, the state Supreme Court has established mediator certification program, and to relieve their overloaded dockets judges commonly refer cases to mediation before a trial can occur. Many Florida judicial circuits have established mediation divisions require mediations in contested divorces and civil disputes. The Federal government, likewise, relies heavily on mediation to resolve disputes involving Federal agencies and employees. Even children are now educated in many schools to determine the resolution of disputes among themselves, even at the elementary school level, in “peer mediation” programs.If you want to find a way out of a lawsuit or avoid going to court altogether, mediation may be your solution.
§ Mediation may be a wise choice for you if:
ü You are involved in a lawsuit;
ü You are considering going to court to enforce your rights;
ü You are likely to be sued; or
ü You are seeking to resolve a dispute that will not necessarily wind up in court.
§ What types of disputes can be resolved by mediation?
ü Divorces and other family disputes;
ü Business disputes;
ü Landlord and tenant disputes;
ü Disputes between neighbors;
ü Employment and workplace disputes;
ü Personal injuries;
ü Property damage;
ü Insurance disputes;
ü Disputes over estates;
ü Disputes over money owed; and
ü Any dispute that can be resolved by agreement with the other party.
§ There are many advantages of going to a mediator before you go to court, including:
ü You can quickly resolve your dispute;
ü You can avoid high legal costs;
ü You can protect your privacy and keep your issues out of court;
ü You can maintain or repair your relationship with the other person or organization;
ü You can avoid the uncertainty of a final verdict
ü You can avoid aggravation, wasted time and energy
§ How do I choose the right mediator?
Mediators’ training, style, techniques and abilities of varies greatly. Some mediators separate people into different rooms right away and spend most of the mediation shuttling their offers and communications back and forth, while other mediators keep the people together as long as possible to discuss the dispute and the possible solutions together. A good mediator, however, should be sensitive to the dynamics of each mediation. Capable and well trained mediators know when it is more productive to keep people together or separate them, and when they should focus on possible solutions instead of rehashing details in a dispute.
Mediators should be good listeners and should have a demeanor that makes people feel comfortable to express their opinions. They should also be strong enough to control the process and keep dominating people from stifling others. Mediators must be committed to the process, and persistent when people think they cannot reach an agreement. A mediator should be flexible in responding to changing dynamics, and alert to discovering underlying issues that may lead the people to a settlement.
Sometimes people select mediators with expertise in a particular subject area, so they can point out the strengths and weaknesses of their positions and objectives. First and foremost, however, a good mediator must be committed to the process and not the outcome. A mediator who insists upon a particular outcome undermines the participants’ right to determine their own solutions.
When you select a mediator, ask about their training, experience and approach to mediation. Try to use a mediator who is committed to open communication, problem solving, neutrality, respect, and self-determination.
* Disclaimer: This article is intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice. There is no lawyer and client relationship arising from this article. You may contact us to discuss your specific concerns if you are seeking legal advice, assistance or representation.