By: Oakland Mediation Center
Most people are not familiar with mediation. In fact, when most people see the word they often think of meditation, you know the act of sitting down with crossed legs, on the mission to find inner peace, but mediation, although it is peaceful, is different.
Simply put, mediation is an alternative to the litigation process. It is a forum where two parties work together to craft solutions tailored specifically to their needs in a relaxed environment. Mediation is a voluntary, private and confidential process.
Now that we’ve gotten the basic information about mediation out of the way, let’s tackle some of the most common myths that surround mediation.
- Mediation is like arbitration.
False. The biggest difference between the two is that in arbitration a decision is handed down by the arbitrator(s). In mediation, the mediator helps the parties involved reach a decision that both parties agree upon. The mediator helps facilitate the negotiation, the arbitrator listens to both sides and makes a decision in favor of one side.
- Mediators make the final decision in a case.
False. All parties involved in mediation retain the decision making control, no one makes the decision but the parties involved. Agreements can be as flexible or rigid as the parties choose for them to be, it’s only up to the individuals involved!
- A judge must order parties to mediation.
False. Anybody can refer a case to mediation. That’s right—anyone involved in a dispute can take it to mediation. It doesn’t matter what the problem is… it can be a landlord to tenant dispute, employee to employer dispute, family member to family member dispute or a neighbor to neighbor dispute. If you have a problem and you want it resolved outside of court, you can contact a mediation organization and take the steps toward reaching an agreement that satisfies both parties.
- Mediation can only be used for personal disputes.
False. Any type of dispute can be mediated. Family, divorce, business, employment, guardianship, special education, small claims, truancy and victim/offender disputes can all be mediated. If you have a problem, any problem, mediation can help resolve it.
Now that you know more about mediation, here are some of the benefits of mediation.
- Mediation is confidential.
All parties involved can feel comfortable and at ease knowing that the mediator will not disclose any information about the case to any outside parties or individuals.
- Mediation is much more cost effective than arbitration and litigation.
On average mediation is 90% cheaper that litigation and arbitration. Take divorce for example, two, three-hour mediation session costs $740, two, three-hour sessions in litigation can cost up to $4,500.
- Mediation saves time.
It can take months to get into court, but with mediation matters can be resolved in days. Yes, days.
- Parties can come back to mediation as often as they’d like.
If parties decide that they want to renegotiate the terms of their agreement or have new issues that arise, they can come back as often as they need too. The decision is theirs and mediators will be there to help them negotiate new terms.
There you have it- mediation in a nutshell! Mediation can cover a variety of case types, disputes and topics, so stay tuned for blogs about them all and feel free to share you experience, thoughts or questions about mediation with us. We would love to hear what you have to say. Leave a comment below!