Mediation is one form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that allows parties to seek a remedy for their conflict without a court trial. Parties work with a mediator, who is a neutral third party. Usually, mediators have received training and certification in dispute resolution and in negotiation, or their professional background provides that practical experience.
Unlike a judge, a mediator does not decide who wins; rather, a mediator facilitates communication between the parties and helps identify issues and solutions. The goal is for parties to reach an acceptable agreement through the help of the mediator.
Mediation can be an appealing option because it is less adversarial. This might be important when the relationship between the parties has to continue in the future, such as between a divorcing couple with children, trust beneficiaries, or business entities.
Mediation often costs less than litigation, which is another benefit. Another advantage to using mediation is that it generally takes much less time than a traditional lawsuit. Litigation can drag on for years, but mediation can typically be completed within a few months. Court systems are embracing mediation and other forms of ADR in an effort to clear their clogged dockets. There are some programs that are voluntary, but in some jurisdictions, pursuing ADR is a mandatory step before a lawsuit can proceed to trial.
Mediation can be used in a variety of cases, and it is sometimes required by a contract between the parties. Mediators can be found through referrals from courts or bar associations, and there are companies that specifically provide ADR services. Ideally, a mediator will have some training or background in the area of law related to your dispute.
Mediation is often a successful way to reach a settlement. If parties fail to resolve their conflict, information learned during mediation is confidential under California law. Contact our law firm today to help determine if mediation would be a valuable tool to resolve your case.