April 3, 2020

Resolution Through Mediation

by Alyson B. Miller and Eimear Bahnson, Legal Alternatives, LLC

Settling a dispute can be one of the most frustrating experiences of a person’s life. Whether the dispute is related to a family or civil lawsuit, taking the matter to court can be an expensive, time consuming and ultimately unsatisfactory experience. Mediation helps resolve disputes by working with all sides to reach an agreement that meets everyone’s needs. It is a positive alternative to litigation.

There are many benefits to mediation. In addition to the financial benefits, mediation is positive and collaborative, leading to far less contentious outcomes as well as a positive model for communication should new issues need to be resolved at a later date.

Mediation is Cost and Time Effective
One of the main benefits of mediation is its cost effectiveness. Since disputing parties have more control over the outcome than they do in litigation, they are also better able to control the costs. Mediation often takes less time and requires less negative energy from those involved. In some cases, mediation makes it possible to resolve an issue in just a matter of hours. Therefore, unlike the litigation process, mediations are often completed within a few sessions, potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars. By including a neutral third party, such as a mediator, disputes can be resolved in a more effective, timely, productive and civil manner.

Mediation begins with “Me” - Mediation Puts Control in the Hands of the Disputing Parties
An extremely appealing benefit of mediation is the control it gives to the disputing parties to resolve their issues. When a dispute is argued in a courtroom, the fate of all participants is decided by strangers – a magistrate, judge or a jury. Often, this means unsatisfactory, upsetting outcomes for both parties. Mediation makes it possible to craft unique and mutually agreeable outcomes for all involved. In fact, mediation is only considered successful when all parties accept and commit to final resolutions. Ensuring that everyone is satisfied with an outcome increases the probability that those involved will abide by their agreed-to obligations and resolutions.

Mediation Makes it Possible to Continue a Relationship
Litigation often destroys the relationship of those involved in a dispute. Disputes typically arise from an existing relationship that at one time was mutually beneficial (e.g., a spouse and their spouse, an insurance provider and the insured party, a business owner and a vendor or client, etc.). There were many aspects of the original relationship that eroded due to a dispute. Mediation is a problem-solving process that attempts to bring out the best in everyone involved. The participants are able to resolve issues because of what they learn during the mediation process. In many cases, mediation settles the dispute at hand and allows the participants to continue their relationship. This is particularly important in family disputes when children are involved and parents must learn to work together.