Resolving disputes in the courtroom can be costly, damaging, and on display for the entire world to see. Most often both parties leave court feeling dissatisfied by the judge's decision. There are ways to resolve disputes outside the courtroom. One of those ways is called Mediation.
PRESERVING RELATIONSHIPS AND SAVING MONEY WHILE RESOLVING CONFLICT
All of us have been involved in some sort of conflict throughout our life. Conflict is normal and almost inevitable because everyone has their own ideas, opinions, and beliefs. If we all thought and believed the same things then life would be pretty boring.
As a child, conflict often arises in interactions with parents, siblings, and friends. As an adult, conflict often arises in interactions with spouses, friends, neighbors, coworkers, parents and siblings. How has conflict been handled? Was it handled with negotiations or compromise? Perhaps it wasn’t resolved at all because conflict is uncomfortable and people often avoid it. As adults, conflict often escalates to the point of taking the issue to court – actually suing a someone because we believe that suing is the only way to resolve the issue. This article touches on mediation as a way to handle disputes outside of the courtroom.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. Any resolution path outside the court system is considered “alternative”. Mediation is a facilitated negotiation which means that there is a neutral, unbiased third party (the mediator). The mediator has received specialized training to help people resolve their differences. A mediator is ANY third party neutral that has received this training. The mediator’s sole objective is to help the parties reach an agreement.
A mediator is not allowed to make decisions or impose solutions. However, they can suggest ways for the parties to improve their relationship and communicate better.
Distinguishing characteristics of mediation include:
- Voluntary: It is a completely VOLUNTARY process. No party is required to take part in mediation.
- Private: It is PRIVATE and CONFIDENTIAL.
- Neutral Facilitator: The mediator is unbiased, independent and has no vested interest in the outcome. The mediator is there to serve as a facilitator: helping the parties reach a resolution.
- Cost: Oftentimes parties spend less time and money resolving disputes through mediation rather than the court system. A mediator's hourly fee may be the same as if you had hired an attorney, but the two parties are sharing the fee of one mediator, not two (or more) attorneys. Likewise, mediation resolves disputes more efficiently and therefore the parties are foregoing the cost involved in a year or longer dispute.
- Win-Win Resolution: It gives the power to the parties to develop solutions, decide on solutions and resolve the dispute. No resolution is forced upon one party or the other. This is very different from the courtroom. In the courtroom, a judge makes a decision and then there is one winner and one loser. Mediation seeks to find the win-win where both parties agree on a solution that works for both of them. This is a very valuable feature when choosing mediation to resolve a dispute because often the win-win involves creative solutions that are not available within our court systems.
Mediation works well when parties:
- Are most interested in working out resolutions positively instead of fighting it out in court.
- Want to maintain privacy. Mediation is done privately where disputes handled in court are public.
- Are in a contentious dispute and have been unable to engage in productive dialogue.
- Are talking; however, despite their efforts, they are unable to reach an agreement.
- Wish to preserve an amicable relationship following the dispute. For example: spouses trying to work out an agreeable parenting plan who wish to have a positive co-parenting relationship post-divorce or post-modification.
- Maintaining a peaceful co-parenting relationship following divorce
- Maintaining family relationship following an eldercare dispute
- Maintaining a healthy employee-employer relationship following an employment dispute
Mediation has been used as an alternative to going to court in various types of disputes. It is an extremely effective form of alternative dispute resolution that individuals and businesses use to peacefully resolve conflict.
Common disputes that utilize mediation include:
- Divorce and separation
- Parenting plans
- Alimony / Maintenance
- Child Support
- Business claims
- Consumer disputes
- Small Claims
- Employment disputes
Going through conflict can be very emotional, stressful, and frustrating. Many times individuals feel as though they have no control over the situation. Reaching out to someone so that you can understand your options for resolving your conflict is something you can do today. Knowledge is power: you can very well move past the conflict via a peaceful resolution process and get your life back.