Saving Time, Money, and Relationships Through Mediation
When a dispute arises, people often turn to courts for a resolution. More often than not, they are disappointed by what they find. Litigation — the process of taking legal action — is a headache. It is expensive, time consuming, and the outcome is rarely satisfying. Furthermore, the adversarial nature of the process typically results in ruined relationships.
All things considered, unless you are a lawyer, litigation should be avoided at all costs. Now is a great time to consider one of the most effective, but wildly underused tools for dispute resolution — mediation.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is an interactive process that helps parties develop a solution to their problem together. A neutral third-party, called a mediator, assists by creating a structured environment in which both parties can productively communicate. Along the way, the both parties must listen to and consider one another’s needs. The process helps people step back from their feelings and emotions, and view their issues objectively. In the end, the parties create and agree to a solution that addresses each of their concerns.
This may sound difficult for people to do in the midst of a disagreement. However, mediation is an incredibly effective form of dispute resolution. A study by the Dallas Mediation Project found that over 83% of mediation sessions end in an agreement. Courts have also recognized the benefits of mediated agreements. Most courts now require parties to participate in mediation-like conferences before their case goes before a judge.
Mediation can be an effective method for resolving any type of dispute. The process is particularly useful for anyone concerned with maintaining a relationship. The key to successful mediation is communication. As long as both sides are willing to discuss their issues with one another, mediation is an option.
Benefits of Mediation for Resolving Disputes
Everyone has a Voice
Mediation gives everyone the opportunity to be heard. People who go through a court process often complain that they did not feel heard. Courtroom procedures are designed to elicit and examine facts, not stories and emotions. People are often denied a full opportunity to state what happened and why. Mediation not only allows individuals to share their perspectives, but it requires everyone involved to listen. When a process makes people feel heard, they can trust that any solution that comes from it will properly consider their needs.
Mediation produces win-win solutions for both sides. Litigation on the other hand is a winner take all competition. No matter the outcome, at least one side loses. Sometimes both sides lose. For example, imagine a situation where two family members are arguing over ownership of a home. Both believe the house is theirs, but both also want to keep the house within the family. The court might decide to force a sale of the house and split the proceeds between the parties. In this case, neither side gets what they want.
Mediation gives these parties the opportunity to create a solution that meets both of their needs. The process helps them discover that their needs are not necessarily exclusive of one another. If one wants to live in the house and the other is interested in the potential economic benefits (e.g. rent, appreciation), they can develop a solution together that also allows the home to remain in the family. Mediation only creates win-win solutions because the parties must come to an agreement. Nine times out of ten, once people agree to come to the table, their desire to have closure will lead them to an agreement.
Unlike litigation, mediation gives formerly disputing parties the chance to solve their problems while strengthening their relationship. Litigation is an adversarial process. It encourages people to find fault with one another. This often results in the death of relationships that were already on life support. Sometimes that is not an issue. However, when people have an interest in maintaining the relationship (e.g. family, neighbors, business partners), litigation should be avoided at all costs.
Mediation is a collaborative process. It promotes and fosters healthy communication, which is the foundation to any successful relationship. People also have space to process negative emotions, which allows positive ones to take their place. Furthermore, the experience of developing a solution together creates a sense of trust and accountability that strengthens the relationship moving forward.
Saving Time and Money
Last, but not least, mediation can save both parties time and money. Going to court is expensive. There are attorney’s fees, filing fees, and potential for lost income due to missed work. Even the simplest case will cost upwards of a few thousand dollars to litigate. What makes this worse, is there is no way to predict when litigation will conclude. If you are lucky it will be over in a few months, but some cases can drag on for years. Meanwhile, as funds diminish, your anxiety goes through the roof.
Mediation presents an entirely different option. For a couple hundred dollars, the parties can sit down with a trained mediator ready to help them find a solution. They can choose a date and time for their mediation session that works for them, and they know the process will take a maximum of a few hours. In the end, they have can find a solution that meets their needs and provides everyone with peace of mind.
If you have a problem with someone and you would like to resolve it without going to court, MZA Legal can help. We can connect you with certified mediator to open up the lines of communication and help you find a resolution. To learn more, give us a call at 215-999-7790.