Mediation has proven to be one of the most effective methods of resolving legal disputes outside the courtroom. In mediation, the parties meet with a neutral mediator, who is usually an attorney with special training in conflict resolution. The mediator works with the parties to facilitate resolution of the issues in dispute. There are many advantages to participating in mediation, including those listed below:
- Mediation is almost always less expensive in comparison to going to trial.
- Mediation is private and can take place in a comfortable and nonadversarial setting that is less formal than a courtroom. A courtroom is a public place and, unless the judge rules otherwise, witnesses and other observers may be present in the courtroom during the trial.
- Mediation can be scheduled at a date and time that is convenient for all parties, rather than a date and time set by the court.
- Settling a case at mediation can allow you to avoid the stress and anxiety associated with going to court and having to testify.
- Mediation allows the parties to realize some control over the outcome of their case. If a case goes to trial, then a judge decides the outcome and the parties have no “say so” in the decision.
- Studies show that parties are generally more satisfied in the long-term when they have input into how their case is resolved.
- The cooperative nature of a mediated settlement tends to reduce hostility between the parties.
- When parties go to court, they often feel that they are in a win-lose situation.
- When parties negotiate a settlement, they can agree to things that a judge does not have authority to impose, such as: allowing visitation privileges with a family pet, granting the noncustodial parent the dependency tax exemption for a minor child, or agreeing to pay college related expenses for a child over age 18.
- Mediation provides the parties with a greater level of confidentiality. The parties can reach an agreement that is memorialized in a legally binding contract that can be kept private. An order signed by a judge in a divorce case is typically a matter of public record.
Even if you are unable to reach a settlement at mediation, mediation can be a productive part of the legal process. Attending mediation can give you valuable insight into the opposing party’s position and help to narrow the issues that need to be addressed at trial. While there are many advantages to settling your case at mediation as opposed to going to trial, mediation is most successful when both parties are open to settlement possibilities and committed to resolving their dispute in a fair and amicable manner. Retired Chief District Court Judge Gary Cash has over 40 years of legal experience, including 25 years of service as a trial judge. The experience, skill, and temperament that Judge Cash brings to the process will enhance your possibility of a successful mediation.