Mediation is a voluntary process that can be used to resolve conflict when two parties to a case cannot agree.   It is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).  Mediation does not seek to find fault or blame for the situation.  It generally considered a less inexpensive solution and a simpler process than the judicial system.  Mediation is thought of an affordable family law option.


In situations when the parties in the case cannot reach an agreement on their own, they may want to consider mediation.  When engaging a mediator the goal is to end up with a negotiated agreement.  As a neutral third party, the mediator helps with communication and necessary bargaining to reach an agreement.  Decisions for the parties involved are not made by the mediator.  This is not like the litigation process where the judge makes a decision for the parties.  Instead, the mediator is there to facilitate the parties reaching an agreement together.

A mediator may or may not be an attorney.  It is important to find someone experienced in mediation and mediation techniques.

What Happens at Mediation

Mediation is typically held at a neutral location.  As stated previously, the mediator’s role is not to make a decision about the issues in dispute.  Instead, his or her role to help the parties reach a mutual agreement through open communication, exchange of information, and bargaining.

Ultimately the goal of successful mediation is for all parties to reach an agreement that they can accept.   Successful mediation means that all parties have to be willing to compromise, find common ground, and get rid of unrealistic expectations.  The mediator will assist in this process to keep the parties on task toward an agreement.

After listening to all the concerns and desires of the parties oftentimes mediators are able to offer creative options for the parties to consider. Once the parties have reached a mutual agreement the mediator may also assist in drafting the necessary paperwork.

When to Mediate

Although in some cases a judge may order parties in a case to mediation, it is typically voluntary.  This is common in family law courts.  Especially in situations that involve divorce, property, or children.  It is thought that the best solution for the parties are those on which they can find some mutual agreement.

After Mediation

If an agreement is reached that parties will commit to the agreement either orally or in writing.  Where the agreement is oral or in writing will depend on the situation.  If family law situation it is common for the agreement to be put in writing.  In some cases, the agreement will be a negotiated settlement agreement, which in some states is binding in the courts.

If an agreement is not reached the issue is largely left unresolved.  In some situations, this will require the two parties to pursue a more costly resolution through the courts.

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