What Is Mediation?
In recent years, our society has seen a dramatic increase in litigation. Turning to the courts to resolve disputes seems to be an almost instinctive reaction. However, lawsuits can be financially and emotionally draining for the participants, and can even impact our economy over the long-run. While parties often resolve disputes on their own, many disputes sadly end up in lawsuits which are then subject to the expensive, time consuming procedures that drive parties to look for other dispute resolution alternatives.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to litigation for resolving disputes. Mediation is one such alternative that is growing rapidly in popularity–one that can dramatically reduce the time and cost (both emotional and financial) of resolving disputes. In fact, many real estate contracts now require the parties to mediate many disputes that might arise between them.
Mediation is a relatively informal form of dispute resolution that occurs outside of the court system. In mediation, the parties to the dispute are assisted by a neutral third person called a mediator. The mediator is not empowered to impose a decision on the parties but instead, the mediator facilitates discussions and helps parties reach a settlement to their dispute by opening lines of communication, objectively evaluating the case, identifying parties’ real needs and finding a solution to address those needs.
To understand how mediation is different from other dispute resolution processes, it is helpful to compare it against the various characteristics of the most common dispute resolution processes in use today.