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What is Mediation?
Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Arbitration, negotiation, and collaborative law are other types of ADR. Alternative dispute resolution is a viable alternative to traditional litigation. Mediation is an informal, flexible process for resolving disputes. Mediators are an highly trained, impartial, neutral third party that helps guide the mediation and drafting of an agreement. Instead of handling the dispute, the mediator facilitates the parties' efforts to reach a mutually acceptable solution. By holding joint sessions and private meetings with the parties, the mediator helps both sides define the issues clearly, understand each other's positions, and work toward resolution. The mediation process is voluntary, and the parties directly craft a settlement. Neither party can be compelled to settle. However, a mediated settlement is binding and enforceable. YOU have CONTROL over the outcome and the FLEXIBILITY in designing solutions that work for YOU.
Mediation is a better alternative to litigation because it is cheaper, quicker, and confidential. A mediation session allows disputing parties to resolve their differences safely, confidentially, and efficiently. On the other hand, in lawsuits, the outcome of disputes is decided by the judge, and the dispute is public knowledge. It can take several months for a lawsuit to be settled, and it can cost thousands of dollars. Mediation usually takes place over one or two meetings and can usually be scheduled within a week or two.
Mediation is often used to resolve disputes arising from family conflict, divorce, child custody matters, conflicts between neighbors, business partners, landlords and tenants, and conflicts between labor unions and management. To learn more about what conflicts are amenable to mediation, visit our Services page.
Although there is a fee for mediation that may be comparable to attorney fees, the overall cost of mediation is less than it would cost taking the case through the standard legal process. Mediation costs less because it is a much quicker process and usually results in a resolution in a few hours.
Mediation is a confidential process whereas court hearings are public. The only individuals that know what occurred in mediation are the participants. Due to the confidential nature of mediation, in most cases a mediator cannot be compelled by the courts to testify about the mediation and anything shared in the mediation.
In mediation, it is the participants that decide how the case will be resolved. A key feature of facilitative mediation is that the mediator acts to help the parties act collaboratively to create a solution that works for both parties. In a court case, it is the judge or jury that decide on the outcome of the case.
Because the parties worked together to create a mutually agreeable solution, compliance with the mediated agreement is usually high. In addition, the mediated agreement is fully enforceable in a court of law. Thus reducing the likely hood that further action involving attorneys will have to be taken to enforce the agreement.
Facilitative mediation helps each party to understand the positions and interests of the other party. Rather than making recommendations or imposing a decision, the mediator encourages disputants to reach their own voluntary solution by exploring each other's deeper interests. The parties thus are more amenable to understanding the other party's side and work on underlying issues to the dispute.
Preservation of Relationships
Because the parties have listened to each other they have a better understanding of the position of the other party. In addition, they have created a mutually agreeable resolution to their conflict. Both these factors serve to help preserve the relationship the parties had before the dispute.
Mediators are trained in working with difficult situations. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator and guides the parties through the process. The mediator helps the parties think "outside of the box" for possible solutions to the dispute, broadening the range of possible solutions.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Mediation Is An Alternative To Litigation
Types of Conflicts That Can Be Mediated
Benefits of Mediation
*produced and published by the Maryland Courts. For more videos in this series,
visit the Maryland Courts page on Mediation.
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