The traditional legal process is adversarial. That means one party files charges against another party, who must defend themselves. In civil charges, one individual sues another individual. Mediation is designed to be different. This process is not always legally binding, but people use it in order to work together toward a common solution that is legal and acceptable for them both.

Mediation is attractive to people for a number of reasons:

  • Hiring a mediator is cheaper than hiring a lawyer.
  • Mediation is confidential, while court proceedings are public.
  • Mediation allows both parties more control over the arguments and the outcome.
  • Mediators provide emotional support for both parties during the process.

When Is Mediation Commonly Used?

One of the most common areas of law that uses mediation is family law. People sometimes get amicable divorces and would like to work out the particulars together rather than fighting it out in court, or letting their lawyers fight it out for them. Divorce mediation is a very common kind of mediation.

Prenuptial agreements can also be established through mediation. Childcare disputes, custody issues, eldercare disagreements, conflicts between siblings, trusts and estates planning, and parenting plans are common topics for legal mediation.

Employment law and business law also find mediation a useful tool. Employees can use mediation to file grievances and address discrimination and harassment issues. Labor management issues can be debated in mediation, as can wrongful termination and workers’ comp cases.

Disagreements between landlords and tenants are often worked out through mediation. Contractors, real estate agents, and builders can settle disputes more amicably through mediation than through traditional civil procedures. Mediation is also useful for business partners experiencing disputes, personal injury claims, and victims who want to speak more directly with their alleged offenders.

If mediation fails, the parties can still proceed through the traditional civil process.

How is Mediation Different from Litigation?

Another alterative dispute resolution is  “binding arbitration” and it is an option people can choose in some kinds of civil cases. In binding arbitration, both sides present their arguments to the arbitrator, who renders a legally binding decision that both parties must follow. The arbitrator is essentially acting as a judge.

Courts can force people into mediation in a number of ways. This varies widely by the kind of law and the particular judge. Some divorce and childcare agreements contain a stipulation that in the case of a breach, both parties need to go to mediation. In this case, some judges will honor the agreement and order the parties into mediation. However, mediation is usually a choice the parties make on their own in order to avoid court.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

A family lawyer can be helpful in reaching an agreement that is amicable for everyone involved.Also, a lawyers can also help save you money in costly court fees. If you have a pending civil case of any kind, consult a mediation lawyer to see if that is the right option for you.