What is Mediation? (And Other Types of Dispute Resolution)
There are a two broad categories of dispute resolution. The first is “formal” dispute resolution (litigation, arbitration and mediation), and “informal” (either some type of feuding or a shared problem solving).
On the formal side, Mediation is the least formal, and the most personal., It is is desirable because it is usually quicker, more efficient, less expensive, less volatile, and less anxiety provoking than the other formal forms of dispute resolution. Mediation also tends to result in resolutions that are more durable and satisfying. It can bring closure to disputes that may have been lingering for long periods of time, which can fester, degrade your quality of life, and be enormously costly in terms of time, energy, financial, and emotional resources.
Mediation also has other side benefits. The relationship between you and the other party may improve, and you might come up with a way forward that you hadn’t thought of before.
The outcome of a mediation is usually a legally enforceable agreement entered in to by the parties themselves. With litigation or arbitration, the outcome is determined by a third party (judge, arbitrator, and/or jury), and it usually takes significantly more time and money to get there.
Comparing mediation to other forms of informal dispute methods (feuding, capitulation, avoidance), the primary benefit is that you usually eliminate most of the collateral damage –anguish, cost, and incredible amounts of wasted time and energy.
Mediation works by being both structured and flexible, and because it is lead by someone whose interest is the satisfaction of the needs of both parties, you will always have someone guiding you towards a resolution.
Mediation is voluntary and confidential. You are guided through your negotiation, and create a mutually agreed upon resolution. An agreement isn’t final unless all parties say so – no one is forced to come to an agreement. You might end a mediation without an agreement, but more often than not, parties do.
Finally, when parties create an agreement, it is legally binding in the same way that any other contract would be.
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If you feel mediation is right for you – or even if you’re still not sure – give me call! I’d be happy to hear about your situation and guide you towards the best possible path.