Mediation: Bringing it all to the table
Mediation may be a word we’ve all heard, but many of us don’t fully understand what it means or what significance mediation has in a court case. It is a voluntary process where people who are either in a court case, or anticipate needing one, get together with someone who is trained to help people try to work their matters out between them in a neutral fashion rather than having a court decide things for them. Maybe most importantly, it is a process that can save time and money and allow for the invaluable opportunity for each person in the conflict to speak their peace as well as hear the other side’s perspective. In this blog we will explore what mediation is and how it serves to support and benefit both sides of a court case.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process during which an impartial person, called a mediator, helps two disputing sides work together to find what is hopefully a peaceful resolution or compromise. Mediators are trained to facilitate open communication and help each side to better understand the other’s perspective so that an agreement can be reached. It’s important to understand that the mediation process, while extremely beneficial in most cases, is a voluntary process. That doesn’t mean that if a judge orders you to attend mediation, you can voluntarily not show up. What it does mean, however, is that you are not required to agree to something that doesn’t satisfy your wants or needs. Whether your mediation was court-ordered or not (and some courts do in fact order parties to attend mediation before proceeding to trial), all unsettled matters will be allowed to proceed to court and decisions on those matters will be made by a judge. Agreements made in mediation come from you, the participant; not the mediator, a judge, or a jury. And when you do reach an agreement, they can become binding contracts fully protecting your rights as if decided by a court.
The Mediator’s Role
As mentioned above, a mediator oversees the mediation proceedings and, to the best of their abilities, helps participants work together through conversations and sharing of information to reach an agreement. Mediators are specially trained in conflict resolution and have experience helping people communicate, even when tensions are high. Mediators are required to keep confidential all information and the exact details of what occurred during a mediation. This means that they cannot be called upon to testify if your case goes to court following mediation. The only exceptions to this rule are in cases of abuse or fraud, or if there are threats made of imminent harm or violence. Because mediation revolves around the idea that the parties make the decision, the mediator must remain impartial throughout. He or she does not act as a judge and cannot give legal advice or make decisions regarding any disputes.
Should I try it?
If your mediation has been ordered by the court, you don’t really have a choice. However, mediation does not need to be court-ordered. Parties can decide individually if mediation is right for their case. If you’re wondering whether or not to give mediation a try, or if your skeptical after being ordered to participate, consider the following:
- Mediation saves time and money;
- Mediation not only allows you to speak your peace but allows you to hear the other side’s perspective as well;
- You maintain control of your wants and needs instead of having things be decided for you by a judge;
- Mediation may help you preserve or rebuild troubled relationships;
- Mediation may help everyone get what they need and want by not only allowing for time to come up with creative solutions and satisfying compromises but also by allowing for solutions that may be beyond what a court is allowed to order.
Mediation is not about winning or losing; it’s about coming up with solutions that work for everyone. That being said, you can’t necessarily “lose” in mediation. You will either reach an agreement that you can feel satisfied with or, if not, you will still have the option to pursue the matter in court. But by having a judge decide the matter for you, you no longer have the same control over the outcome because the matter will be decided in a manner that is subject to many outside factors and influences, again, most likely beyond your control. So, if you do find yourself with an opportunity to use mediation as way to resolve a conflict, it is always going to be in your best interest to make sure you’re striving to find a compromise so that you can avoid the need for a court to decide things for you.
How do I find a Mediator?
At Ferrante, Dill & Hisle, LLC, our attorneys have undergone specialized mediation training and we offer mediation services for all matters pertaining to the law. If you find yourself in need of a mediator who can help facilitate a healthy and productive conversation, reach out to one of our attorneys today. You can give us a call at (410) 535-6100 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.