Common Mediation Questions and Answers
Mediation can be an effective way to solve legal disputes much cheaper and quicker than through drawn-out litigation. People are not usually familiar with the process and wonder if mediation is the right choice for their particular circumstances. This article will address the most-common questions people have about mediation.
Does my case qualify for mediation?
The only cases that qualify for mediation are civil cases. There is one general exception to this rule, which is nonviolent crimes such as sexual harassment. The cases that are usually mediated include the following:
- Business disputes
- Probate, estate & guardianship issues
- Real estate disputes
- Divorces & child custody
- Employee-employer disputes
- Construction disputes
- Personal injury cases
- Contract disputes
One of the best reasons to choose mediation instead of litigation is to maintain a relationship with the other party. The process is one of collaboration and cooperation, and works well for disputes between business partners, neighbors, and co-parents.
Does mediation require a lawyer?
There is no need for a lawyer during mediation, although having your own representation is always recommended. Mediation is often suggested far along in the claims process, usually after you’ve already hired an attorney. It is a good idea to consult with your lawyer about the idea of mediation, and get their honest opinion.
What is the usual time frame for mediation?
In most cases, mediation only takes a day or so. Larger business disputes and divorce/custody mediation may last as long as several weeks, but it is still far quicker than litigation.
How does the process work?
There is no clear-cut or formal mediation process, but the typical steps are as follows:
- The mediator makes an introduction and makes some opening comments about the goals of mediation and the rules.
- Both sides are permitted to describe the dispute from their individual viewpoints without interruption from the other side.
- The mediator may engage the parties in a mutual discussion or a private discussion with each party privately as they work out each issue.
- After a discussion of the issues, the mediator will usually bring the parties together in order to negotiate a solution.
- If the negotiations were successful, the mediator will prepare a written agreement, notify the court, and have both parties sign the agreement.
- If the negotiation was unsuccessful, the mediator will more than likely summarize the points on which the parties agreed, and advise them of their ongoing rights.
How fair is mediation?
There should be a fair compromise during mediation since both sides can freely discuss any issues that are in dispute, and there is no binding agreement unless both parties come to a mutual agreement. If one side doesn’t think the resolution is fair, no agreement is made.
How do I find the right mediator for my needs?
The mediator you choose should depend on the type of dispute involved, since the majority of mediators specialize in specific areas of civil law. It’s important to choose the one that specializes in the area of law you need, such as divorce, community disputes, civil lawsuits, business disputes, or any number of other possible areas that may be in dispute.
How does mediation differ from arbitration?
Although mediation and arbitration are similar processes, there is one significant difference: a mediator is not allowed to make a decision unless both parties agree, while an arbitrator has the power to make decisions for both parties without a mutual agreement. In this respect, arbitration is more like the court process including formal rules, availability of witnesses, formal arguments, and much more.