WHAT IS MEDIATION?
Mediation is a voluntary, informal, non-binding process in which a trained mediator facilitates the communication between disputing parties and assists them in exploring different ways to resolve their problem. When an agreement is reached, it is a legally binding contract signed by both parties.
WHAT TYPE OF DISPUTES CAN BE MEDIATED?
Oftentimes when someone mentions mediation, divorce instantly comes to mind, but virtually any type of dispute can be mediated: Commercial, business, personal injury, insurance, real estate transactions, landlord-tenant, creditor-debtor, employment, and disputes related to wills, trusts, and estates. No conflict is too trivial to mediation.
WHAT’S THE MEDIATOR ROLE?
The mediator is a neutral third party who helps disputing parties to resolve their differences and find a solution to their problem.
The mediator will listen to both sides and help the parties understand each other’s positions, underlying interests, needs, and priorities. The mediator guides the process and does not make the final decision as an arbitrator or judge would. The parties are empowered to reach the final outcome.
The mediator may write up a mutually acceptable agreement specifically outlining the terms of the resolution.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MEDIATION?
• Fair and Neutral
Parties have an equal say in the process and are the ones that decide the terms of their own settlement, not the mediator. The parties remain in control over the process unlike litigation or arbitration, where the judge, the jury or the arbitrator is the one deciding the outcome.
• Saves Time
Depending on the complexity of the case and the parties, the mediation session can last a few hours in one single day or it can require different sessions.
However, it’s definitely a quicker process than going to trial which can take months or years.
• More Affordable
When you mediate, you avoid the fees that accompany going to trial, which include a variety of administrative fees, attorney fees, filing fees, and court costs, just to name a few.
Mediation is completely confidential. Information disclosed during the mediation will not be revealed to anyone unless otherwise required or permitted by law or agreed upon by the parties. If you do go to court, all the information is a public record.
• Preserve Relationships
Mediation fosters a problem-solving approach to the dispute that can preserve the relationship between disputants. The parties are coming together to negotiate and resolve their conflict. Even though the parties are in dispute, both are seeking settlement and are willing to listen to each other and open the lines of communication.
• Parties Design Their Own Solution
Mediation allows the parties to remain in control of their case and determine the outcome. In mediation, the parties are the ones that decide how to resolve their dispute, define the terms of the agreement and avoid the uncertainty of a judicial outcome.
• Peace of Mind
Mediation helps the parties make peace with each other or the situation they are in. It facilitates peace of mind. By identifying the underlying needs and interests, mediation moves the parties toward compromise, agreement, and forgiveness.
In mediation, the parties are the ones that decide how to resolve their dispute, define the terms of the agreement and avoid the uncertainty of a judicial outcome.
WHAT TO DO IN PREPARATION FOR A MEDIATION?
Be prepared to explain your side of the story and be willing to listen to the other side. Be patient, creative and have an open mind. It can be difficult but at the end of the day, everything has a solution.
WHAT IS NOT NEEDED:
Mediation is a very informal and flexible process. Witnesses and documents are not required. You don’t need legal representation to participate in mediation. Having an attorney representing you in the mediation can be helpful but it’s optional. Self-represented parties may at any time seek independent legal advice outside the mediation.
In summary, do not underestimate the undisputed effectiveness of mediation. If your family is facing challenges in matters related to an estate, please consider mediation. It can save time, money, and relationships.
Ana Sambold is an Attorney, Mediator and Dispute Resolution Specialist. She is on the neutral panels of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), ADR Services, International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR), and several courts, federal and estate agencies. She has helped over 1,000 parties and attorneys with the most challenging disputes in the areas of probate, trusts and estates, elder abuse, family, insurance, employment, and real estate disputes. Ms. Sambold is available to mediate in-person, online, by phone. For more information about her practice, visit www.sambold-law.com. She can be reached at email@example.com