Mediation is a form of conflict resolution in which feuding parties attempt to settle their differences with the assistance of a trained third-party, known as a mediator. It’s a preferred, and sometimes mandatory, method for addressing child custody disputes, but the process is also well-suited for other areas of conflict. What you may not know, however, is that mediation is a private, informal “alternative dispute resolution” that occurs outside the court system.
It does not involve a legal judgement from a judge or jury, and disputing parties are not required to agree on a solution. Participants also engage each other without legal representation, and the mediator’s role is largely confined to facilitating communication.
Further, this can differ from arbitration in that an arbitration process is conducted similar to a court trial, and the arbitrator, or panel of arbitrators, reaches a decision that is legally binding and enforceable in court. Other benefits to mediation can include, but not be limited to:
- Keeping matters confidential, and outside the scope of potential future lawsuits.
- Faster resolution and fewer costs than obtaining legal counsel and going to court.
- Letting the disputing parties decide on an outcome themselves.
It’s easy to see why these characteristics are advantageous when children are involved. A divorce can be expensive, long, and a matter of public record when executed in court. If divorcing parents mostly agree on child custody terms, a mediator can help resolve remaining differences and limit damage to the couple’s children.
Similar to child custody, this can be a very important tool to use when an aging parent, or parents, are involved as well. Mediation is ideal for resolving non-criminal disputes between elders, family members, friends, neighbors, business partners, and those in similar relationships. Non-criminal disputes are ones that do not warrant civil lawsuits or that the family wants to manage privately. For example, an adult child who is accused of taking the elder’s resources.
After an agreement is reached, a written statement can be provided to the opposing parties. Depending on the type of mediation, the statement may be considered an enforceable contract. Agreements in court-appointed mediations may serve as court judgements.
This is just one of the ways in which our law firm helps our residents in our local community. We would encourage you to learn more about this area of our practice and share your concerns. We are your local legal team here to help you find and obtain the answers you need to your legal questions.