Headed to Court? Try Mediation Instead.
People often think that if they are unable to resolve a conflict, their only option is to give up or have a judge decide. Either choice may come with significant personal and financial costs, however. By giving up, a person may be compromising an important right, asset, or relationship. By handing the decision-making power to a judge, a person gives up control of the outcome and must shoulder the time and expense involved in bringing a case to court.
Mediation offers an alternative way for people in conflict to reach a resolution that preserves some control over the outcome. It is a voluntary, confidential process where parties meet with a neutral third party, the mediator, who facilitates a negotiation. Mediation minimizes the investment of time and cost involved in resolving a dispute, and can occur before a lawsuit is ever filed or anytime between filing a complaint and trial.
A mediator is a trained facilitator who will assist the parties to communicate effectively and respectfully, think creatively and discuss workable options to resolve their dispute. The mediator guides the process and discussion and enforces basic ground rules to ensure it is productive.
Participants can mediate on their own and ask an attorney to review their agreement before signing. Or, lawyers can participate in the entire process with their clients. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement through mediation, a lawsuit is still an option.
Mediation is not easy, but because the solution is crafted by the parties themselves rather than being imposed by a judge, there is a often a greater feeling of fairness on both sides, better compliance with the decision, and overall a more satisfactory outcome.
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