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What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process in which a neutral party (the mediator) facilitates negotiation and resolution of a dispute between the parties. Unlike judges or arbitrators, mediators do not decide the outcome of a dispute. Rather, a mediator’s role is to help the parties determine whether they can jointly find a resolution to the issue.

A Voluntary Process

One of the core principles of mediation is that the process is voluntary. In most cases, the parties have recognized the benefits of the mediation process and have agreed to utilize the process in an attempt to resolve the dispute as amicably as possible and without the need for court intervention. Parties may agree to utilize this process either before a lawsuit has been filed or at any time after. Once a lawsuit has been filed, a judge may order the parties to attend a mediation. Even in cases where the parties have been ordered to mediation, the process is still voluntary in that a mediator may not force either party to agree to anything and the parties or the mediator are free to terminate the mediation at any time. All that is asked is that the parties participate in the process in good faith.

A Confidential Process

A second core principle of mediation is that the process is confidential. What is said in mediation is not admissible in court. The mediator cannot be called to court to discuss what happened at mediation and a mediator cannot talk to the judge or anyone else about what happened at the mediation. As a result, the mediator is able to facilitate a full and honest conversation between the parties. This honest discussion generally leads to a better understanding of the issues for both parties and a resolution that takes all factors into account.

Benefits of Mediation

Less costly than going to court.
Speedier resolution.
Ability to use creative solutions.
Greater understanding of the issues.
Avoids the need to ``air dirty laundry`` in public courtrooms.
Preserves relationships.

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