Voluntary vs. Court Ordered Mediation

Mediation is almost always better than litigation for the settlement of disputes in a timely manner, while involving minimal costs and stress for both sides. In the state of California, you can find yourself in a mediation room via two different routes: By your own volition, along with the opposing party through mutual agreement, OR by a court order given by a judge

What is Voluntary Mediation?

There are several stages in a civil trial process – pleadings, discovery, trial, and appeal. Parties can voluntarily choose to go for mediation at any of these stages. In this method, there is no external pressure – the decision is voluntary and often based entirely on self-interest.

There are several reasons why parties might want to choose mediation over litigation:

  • The risk of losing the case badly in the court
  • The chances of the case dragging on indefinitely in the court
  • The prohibitive costs of litigation for most parties
  • The severe stress levels and disruption of mental peace during a bitter litigation

When both the parties are in agreement over alternate dispute resolution, they can approach a neutral third-party mediation service provider. Mediators are legal professionals with extensive knowledge and experience in handling civil disputes.

You can pick voluntary mediation at any stage of a trial – before filing the case, after discovery, or even during the trial itself. Even the courts prefer alternative dispute resolution (ADR) measures like mediation because it reduces the burden of backlogs on the system.

What is Court-ordered Mediation?

The name itself is quite self-explanatory. In this mode, a judge will usually order both parties to give mediation a chance before taking things to trial. A judge can order a mediation in certain specific situations, namely:

  • Divorce cases where custody and parental rights are an issue – to spare children the agony of a trial, the courts first try to give amicable mediation a chance
  • In other family law cases, often involving financial disputes
  • When a party in a civil case cannot afford a lawyer, the court may order a mediation

Court-ordered mediation is also called mandatory mediation. The selection of the mediator can happen in two ways here. First, the court will give parties the option to zero-in on an appropriate mediation expert on their own.

If the parties are unable or unwilling to do that, the court can appoint a neutral mediator from its list of available names. In cases involving low-income and underprivileged individuals, the mediation services may be available free of cost.

Many practicing lawyers pull in extra shifts as voluntary mediators in California courthouses. Our mediation attorneys at Lerner Conflict Resolution Center are happy to provide you top-rated mediation services in divorce, family law, probate and estate, and elder disputes – for both voluntary and court-ordered mediations.

Which is Better – Voluntary or Court Ordered Meditation?

The element of consent and free will is important for the success of any mediation project. This gives a definitive edge to voluntary mediation. In court-ordered mediation, both parties may not have the same level of motivation for negotiations since they are at the table because of a court order, not mutual agreement.

Mediation Specialists for Both Voluntary and Court Ordered Mediation

The mediators at Lerner Conflict Resolution Center work on both types of mediation. Apart from delivering efficient, affordable, and dependable mediation services to voluntary clients, our experts also encourage you to choose our private mediation services for court-ordered mediations.

Table of Contents