The thought of filing and processing a lawsuit can be daunting-after all, it requires both sides to have prepared arguments to present in front of the judge and jury. For those who wish to try to settle the dispute out of court in a private and more casual manner, mediation may be the perfect option. In most mediations, a third-party outsider will work to help both parties come to a mutual agreement. The parties are not obligated to come up with a solution, and can rely on the mediator to add in clauses that make an agreement. This can also save on lawyer fees, as most of the time the individual parties represent themselves.
Mediation is usually available in non-criminal cases, where it makes sense to sort things out between the two parties, especially if the issue may be the result of a misunderstanding. Some non-violent criminal cases, like verbal harassment, may also be mediated. For claims that are not worthy of a full lawsuit, such as for small disagreements in a neighborhood, it may be useful to mediate so that both parties are aware of the concerns of the other. Mediation may even be mandatory for issues regarding divorce, child custody, and neighbors/tenants.
Mediation is often seen as a reliable alternative to going to court and is chosen because of several advantages:
Confidentiality. Court cases are public records and can be released without the confirmation of both parties if necessary. Mediation, however, is usually confidential and agreements can be made so that nothing can be used in a future lawsuit.
Cost. By not having to hire lawyers and go to court, it can cost less for each party. Sometimes mediation can resolve an issue for almost free. It also takes away any emotional costs of having to be pushed through the judicial system since the resolution is so fast. Lawsuits sometimes take years to reach a court ruling, but mediation is usually resolved in a few sessions.
Mutual Agreement. In a lawsuit or court decision,the judge or jury decides on the resolution regardless of what the two parties think is fair or are willing to do. With mediation, there is room for compromise and personal empathy to allow a decision that benefits everyone. The parties can also have a forum to air grievances without having to go through lawyers, who can forbid their clients from talking to the other party.
In mediation, the mediator will explain the process and what each party should expect to get from the process. There might be certain conditions that both parties need to meet. Next, the parties will each describe the dispute, and can question each other to get a better understanding on the conflict. In some cases, one party has no idea that the other was bothered by an infringement and can easily resolve the issue. The mediator can then speak privately with each party to obtain a better understanding of each individual’s views and their goals from the meeting. This can help the mediator assess possible solutions. Finally, the parties will negotiate to create an agreeable solution. Once the two parties have reached a compromise, they can sign an official document that can be upheld in court.
If you have a civil dispute that you would like to resolve, or are interested in finding out if a lawsuit can be handled outside the courts, call our office today. We can advise you on whether or not an attorney is necessary to get the best results from your settlement.