What is mediation?

Mediation is a popular alternative to litigation because:

  • It is faster.

    Your court case may be continued many times before it is finally heard. Even after it is heard, the other side may file more motions, ask for a rehearing, or file an appeal. Some cases continue months and months after the trial is over while lawyers argue over the details of what the Judge actually ruled. Mediation, however, generally occurs in the office of the mediator and can be scheduled more quickly.

  • It is voluntary.

    Any agreement you reach in mediation is voluntary. You do not have to agree to anything.

  • It is informal.

    Mediations are almost always conducted in the mediator’s office. You may dress casually and takes breaks as you need them. You are allowed to speak for yourself and talk about the things that are most important to you. The mediator can consider evidence that may not be admissible in court. The Judge is not present at the mediation nor is it recorded.

  • It is specific to your needs.

    You can tailor your resolution to meet the needs of you and your family. A Judge cannot know your family as well as you do. In mediation, you can brainstorm with the mediator to come up with as many options as you can imagine. Often the solutions reached in mediation are different from the traditional resolutions offered by a Judge.

  • It can be final.

    At the end of mediation, your case could be completely resolved. Once an agreement is reached, the agreement can be typed up and signed by both parties at the mediator’s office and filed with the court immediately thereafter. With very few exceptions, a mediated agreement signed by the parties will be enforced by your Judge even if the other side changes his or her mind.

  • It is confidential.

    With very limited exceptions, everything you say in mediation is confidential. Your statements cannot be repeated in court and no one is permitted to record what is said at mediation.

  • It puts you back in charge of your life.

    Litigation, as necessary as it may be at times, puts others in charge of your life. Your lawyer will speak for you and the Judge will tell you what to do. Judges and lawyers do almost all of the talking in litigation. It can be very frustrating but that is how our judicial system functions. Mediation, however, is just the opposite. Although your attorney may be present to give you legal advice, you are in the driver’s seat. You will be allowed to describe the issues that are important to you and work with the mediator to find solutions that you believe are most appropriate for your family.

When should I go to mediation?

Generally, the sooner you go to mediation the better off you will be. Each case is different and there may be issues you need to explore before you are prepared to discuss solutions. Mediation, however, almost always results in some benefit even if you are not able to resolve your entire case. You may resolve part of your case or you may be able to narrow the issues. You may just benefit from having everyone at the same place at the same time and exchanging information. It is amazing how expensive and time consuming it can be when the parties are not speaking to one another and the only information between the parties is being shared by their lawyers through letters. At mediation, you can accomplish in minutes what would otherwise take days to achieve.

Mediation may be mandatory depending on the type of case you have. Judges, however, often order parties to attend mediation because of the benefits mediation offers as compared to litigation.

Who pays for mediation?

Mediators charge an hourly rate for their time and may also charge for certain expenses they incur during the mediation. Unless an agreement is reached to do otherwise, the cost of mediation is typically divided equally between the parties.