Resolving disputes in the courtroom can be costly, damaging, and on display for the entire world to see. Most often both parties leave court feeling dissatisfied by the judge’s decision. There are alternative ways to resolving a dispute outside the courtroom. Mediation is one of the the most effective out-of-court methods for resolving disputes.
Mediation: Power of the Win-Win, Preserving Relationships, and Saving Money while Resolving Conflict
The majority of us will experience conflict at some point in life. Conflict is normal and almost inevitable because everyone has their own ideas, opinions, and beliefs. If we all thought the same way and believed the same things then there wouldn’t be much originality in the world.
As a child, conflict often arises in interactions with parents, siblings, and friends. As an adult, conflict arises in our interactions with spouses, friends, neighbors, coworkers, parents and siblings. How has conflict been handled? Was it handled between yourselves with negotiations or compromise? Perhaps it wasn’t resolved at all because conflict is uncomfortable and people often avoid it. Sometimes conflicts, especially as adults, escalate to the point of taking the issue to court – actually suing a party believing that suing is the only way to resolve the issue. This article touches on mediation as a way to handle disputes outside of the courtroom.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution and it utilizes the facilitated negotiation process. The process utilizes a neutral, unbiased third party (the mediator) to help the parties resolve their differences. The mediator has received special training and their sole objective is to help the parties reach an agreement.
A mediator does not make decisions or impose solutions. However, they can suggest ways for the parties to improve their relationship and communicate better.
Distinguishing characteristics of mediation include:
- Voluntary: It is a completely voluntary process. Parties choose to take part in mediation.
- Private: It is private and confidential.
- Neutral Facilitator: The mediator is an unbiased, independent party who has no vested interest in the outcome. The mediator serves as a facilitator. They help the parties communicate so that they may reach a resolution.
- Win-Win Resolution: It gives the power to the parties to develop solutions, decide on solutions and resolve the dispute. Resolutions are not forced upon anyone. This is very different from the courtroom. In the courtroom, a judge makes a decision and then there is one winner and one loser. Mediation seeks to find the win-win where both parties agree on a solution that works for both of them. This is a very valuable feature when choosing mediation to resolve a dispute because often the win-win involves creative solutions that are not available within our court systems.
- Cost: Often times parties spend less time and money resolving disputes through mediation rather than the court system. A mediator’s hourly fee may be the same as an attorney’s; however, mediation allows you to resolve disputes in a matter of hours instead of months and years.
Mediation works well when parties:
- Want to work through conflict in positive way.
- Want to maintain privacy. Unlike the courtroom, the mediation process is private and confidential.
- Are in a contentious dispute and have been unable to engage in productive dialogue.
- Are talking; however, despite their efforts, they are unable to reach an agreement.
- Wish to preserve an amicable relationship following the dispute. For example:
- Establish a healthy co-parenting relationship following divorce
- Maintaining healthy family relationships following an eldercare dispute
- Maintaining a productive employer-employee relationship following an employment dispute
Mediation is an effective method of resolving many different types of disputes. It is an extremely effective and satisfying form of alternative dispute resolution. Individuals and businesses utilize mediation, instead of the courtroom, to resolve conflict.
Common disputes that utilize mediation include:
- Divorce and separation
- Parenting plans
- Alimony / Child Support
- Business claims
- Consumer disputes
- Small Claims
- Employment disputes
Going through conflict can be very emotional, stressful, and frustrating. Many times individuals feel as though they have no control over the situation. Reaching out to someone so that you can understand your options for resolving your conflict is something you can do today. Knowledge is power: you may just be able to move towards a peaceful resolution and get back to life.