Whether you’ve been considering mediation on a voluntary basis or must see a court-ordered mediator to end a court case, you may have many questions about mediation, how it works, and what to expect. Below are 9 things you should know about mediation.
- Mediation sessions are confidential. Even though the mediator talks with both parties and uses this information to encourage the parties to come to a satisfactory agreement, what is said in the sessions is confidential. Mediators may make recommendations for court cases but cannot divulge what was said in the sessions. Even if there is a trial in the future, what was said in the mediation sessions continues to be confidential.
- Mediators do not solve your problems. Mediation sessions are designed to help the parties come to agreeable decisions. They encourage both parties to look at all sides and work towards a common goal and a decision they can both live with. They are not, however, therapists. If you're working on divorce mediation, for example, a mediator is just concerned with negotiating legal issues like asset division, not trying to resolve your marital issues.
- Mediators do not take sides. Mediators listen to both sides and may make suggestions that will steer the parties in the right direction towards coming to a settlement agreement, but they do not take one person’s side over the other.
- Mediation may be voluntary. Although many mediation sessions are court-ordered, you may also attend voluntary mediation sessions if both parties agree. Often, two people who are in the midst of a dispute will agree to mediation so they can have a 3rd party listen and facilitate a mediation settlement agreement.
- Mediation is a cost-effective and time-saving alternative to litigation. Mediation involves the mediator, the two individuals, and possibly their attorneys. By using mediation to come to an agreement, the parties eliminate the need for lengthy court cases and high attorney bills.
- Mediation is worth the cost. Even in situations where there are several mediation sessions, the total cost of the mediation is generally substantially less than what you would pay if you had to go to trial.
- Mediation is less risky than a trial. Even if you have what you consider the perfect case, there is no guarantee that a judge or jury is going to agree with you. Even though mediation doesn’t guarantee that the case will go your way, you do have some say in how much you’re willing to give and take in the negotiation process.
- Mediation is NOT the same as arbitration. Some offices may offer both arbitration and mediation servicees, but they are two different processes. Mediators listen to both sides and help each person come to satisfactory agreements that benefit both parties but do not side with either party. Arbitrators, on the other hand, will listen to both sides and make a decision, and this decision is final and must be honored.
- Mediation is very effective. According to the American Arbitration Association, 85% of commercial mediations result in settlement agreements, and 95% of personal injury mediations result in settlement agreements. Even if mediation doesn't directly result in a settlement, the mediator can make recommendations to court, so your time isn't wasted.