This is going to be my first blog in a series about the mediation process from start to finish. So what is mediation anyway?
Simply put, mediation is a process in which a neutral third person (the mediator) helps the parties who are in litigation reach a settlement of the issues in their particular case. These may include property division, child-related issues (child support, custody, and visitation), and in some cases, spousal support. A mediator does not act as a judge-he or she simply assists the parties in reaching an agreement.
Increasingly, mediation is being required by many Courts prior to trial, and statistics show that it is highly effective in settling cases. Mediation has a structure and dynamics that ordinary negotiation methods lack. The process is confidential-meaning the mediator cannot be compelled to testify at trial as to anything that is said or any offers that are made during the process.
There are many benefits to mediation as opposed to litigation. The first is that mediation increases the “control” parties have over how their case is resolved. There is no way to predict how a judge or jury will resolve the case. Mediation is more likely to result in an agreement that the parties can live with.
There is also the cost-benefit to mediation. Even though parties have to pay the mediator (and their attorneys), it is far cheaper than continuing protracted litigation through the court system, possibly taking months (or even years in some cases), causing more fees and no closure.
In my next blog, I will address how to prepare for mediation and what to expect in mediation.