Could Mediation Help You With a Legal Dispute?

Did you know that you may be able to avoid a difficult, expensive, and time-consuming legal case by choosing a different method to resolve your claim? If you haven’t explored the option of mediation, you may miss out on a valuable way to streamline your legal issue and receive a better outcome. Discover what you need to know about mediation.

What Is Mediation? 

Mediation in a legal context is the use of an independent third party – the mediator – to help two sides of a legal dispute find a resolution they both can accept. Unlike a judge, the mediator doesn’t make decisions for the two parties but rather tries to help them work through the issue on their own. 

How Does Mediation Help You?

Mediation can be a big benefit in several ways. First – and possibly most importantly – it’s generally a much faster and less expensive way to resolve a legal dispute than taking it all the way to a court of law. This means that it may be appropriate for handling both large legal issues (such as divorce negotiations) as well as smaller issues (like contract disputes) that may not be economically viable as a court case. 

Because mediation’s goal is to find an equitable solution to the problem, it’s also not a win-lose choice. Both sides can win on some levels in exchange for giving up things in a compromise. That is advantageous for litigants or defendants who may not have as strong a case as they want. But this also means that your risk of a negative outcome is mitigated and you, therefore, stand to lose less in any case.

What If Mediation Doesn’t Work?

Of course, no dispute resolution method is successful 100% of the time. Mediation can work well when both parties are willing to find a path through their dispute, but it may not work if one or both do not negotiate in good faith or cannot compromise. If this happens, you can then take your claim back to the regular court process and pursue it through normal channels or seek arbitration.

In addition, even when everyone does legitimately try to negotiate, the options they’re left with may not be palatable to one or both parties. In this case, mediation outcomes are not binding on the two sides. Agreeing to negotiated terms is not mandatory, and one or both sides can choose not to abide by them. Again, you may resort to the traditional legal process. 

What Types of Mediation Exist?

Not all forms of mediation are the same. The original form of mediation is known as facilitative mediation. This mediation process seeks to help both sides recognize the other’s point of view, legitimizing the needs of both, and tries to find underlying interests to help them reach a conclusion. The mediator’s role is not to offer opinions but to ask questions, guide discussions, and maintain productivity. 

A newer form of mediation is evaluative mediation. In this approach, the mediator is usually more knowledgeable in the field of law or the area of the dispute. This mediator does more than simply guide the talks. Instead, they help each party to evaluate their own case, determine what a fair result is, and focus on the right issues. They also often meet with parties separately, controlling more of the process.

Where Can You Learn More About Mediation?

If mediation is a new concept for you, start by learning more about how it works and what choices you have. Lerner Conflict Resolution Center can help. We have aided California residents in finding positive outcomes in a wide variety of family, business, and neighbor disputes. Call today to get started.