What is mediation?
Mediation is a meeting where each person involved in a dispute meets with a neutral person (the mediator) who carefully listens to all points of view. After the mediator has an understanding of the dispute, the mediator facilitates conversations between all sides to bring them to an agreement on some or all of the matters in dispute. The conversations may be face to face, or may be indirect with information being carried back and forth by the mediator. The meeting(s) may be in person or virtual.
What does a mediator do?
A mediator helps people to reach agreements on some or all of the issues about which they disagree. Ideally, the mediator helps people to resolve all of their disagreements without having any need to have a judge or jury or other authority make a decision for them.
Is mediation worthwhile?
The people involved in a mediation have the opportunity to design an agreement that works for them rather than relinquishing any of the decision making over to a judge or jury or some other authority. If an agreement is reached, then all of the persons involved are devoted to upholding the mediated agreement, and are more likely to actually comply with the agreement. Since everyone was able to peacefully resolve the matter, the participants are more likely to be able to cooperate with one another in the future. This is very important where circumstances require the people to have future ongoing relationships.
The costs of hiring a mediator are likely less than the cost of each person hiring their own attorney. The mediation fees are split between all persons involved. The mediator is working to bring everyone involved together where an attorney must focus only on his/her own client's interest and has a monetary incentive not to settle the case.
Mediation is so much faster than going through a court process. There is no waiting for a judge or other authority to have availability on their calendar. Commonly people wait months for an opportunity to appear in court. A meeting with a mediator can normally be scheduled within a couple of weeks.
If the persons involved have been ordered by a judge to attend mediation, the mediator will file a document with the court certifying that the persons have complied. If the persons have been ordered to participate in good faith, the mediator will tell the court whether or not, in the mediator's opinion, the persons behaved in good faith.
If an Agreement is reached, the mediator can prepare a document spelling out the terms of the agreement. This document can be filed with a court and used as the basis for a court order.