What is mediation?
Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party (the mediator) assists the parties to a dispute to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.
How does the mediator assist the parties?
No two mediations are exactly alike because no two disputes are exactly alike. However, among the things that a mediator may do to facilitate settlement is to make certain each party is clear on what the dispute is really about and that each party understands (not necessarily agrees with) the position of the other parties.
A mediator may help to formulate alternatives and help a party clarify how those alternatives fit in with that party’s goals and how they might work. A mediator also serves as a conduit for information between the parties, especially where the parties have difficulty communicating directly with one another.
Note that a mediator is not an advocate for any party. Mediators are trained to remain completely impartial.
How long mediation take?
There is no way to answer this question. Typically, a mediation session lasts from thirty minutes to four hours. However, some mediations are over in just a few minutes. Others, particularly in very large or complex disputes, may require multiple sessions spread over weeks or even months. Different Mediation Centers have different time limit.
What are some of the advantages of mediation?
Mediation can be much less expensive than litigation which generally requires payment of filing fees, fees for service of documents, court fees and, of course, advocate fees. Additionally, in mediation there is no resolution unless and until there is an agreement that you accept.
In litigation, a judge you do not know will decide for you how your dispute will be resolved. Thus, mediation offers you greater control over the outcome. Further, studies have shown that, not surprisingly, parties are much more likely to actually obey the terms of an agreement they entered than they are to obey a resolution that was forced upon them. This can help bring a sense of closure that allows you to put the dispute behind you and concentrate with your business and your life.
What if I do not like the mediator’s decision?
Mediators are not judges and they do not make decisions for the parties. No mediator can or will attempt to force you to accept a settlement. If the parties to a mediation cannot agree on a settlement of any issues, the mediator will, after exploring all reasonable avenues of reaching an agreement, simply declare an impasse.