When two parties wish to resolve a dispute without taking it before a court, they have the option of entering into mediation. In mediation, all involved in the case enter into discussions presided over by an informal third party. That third party, generally referred to as the “mediator,” will guide proceedings towards a conclusion that is beneficial to all affected.
Parents in the process of separating may take to mediation if they cannot agree on matters pertaining to their children, such as child support, custody and visitation. Although mediation is designed to allow parties the opportunity to settle their differences without the intervention of a judge, it is generally advised that those seeking mediation enlist the help of an attorney. While your attorney will not be as involved in mediation as they would be in court proceedings, he or she will keep a keen eye on what transpires during each session and will provide you with valuable advice regarding every decision you make (or even think about making).
Caryn Fennell works with clients both prior and during mediation to ensure the process yields the best possible result for them. Having worked extensively on mediation cases, we recommend mediation to all parties who believe they may be able to resolve their issues outside of court. Among the many benefits, mediation is:
While taking a case before the court is a great way to receive an impartial verdict from an informed legal mind, it can be extremely expensive, with even the most straightforward court proceedings requiring those involved to spend several hundred dollars before justice is served. Mediation is significantly less expensive than the courtroom alternative and eliminates any risk of a party who is clearly in the wrong winning the case simply because they secured a more skilled team of attorneys.
When you take a case before a court, you are left with little choice but to discuss all aspects of the dispute and its cause before a room full of spectators, which more often than not leads to the details of the case becoming public knowledge. Mediation, for the most part, doesn’t see anybody beyond the disputing parties and the assigned mediator in a room together at any one time. On occasion, attorneys may be present, but they are bound by confidentiality agreements, as are all others involved in the mediation process.
Many people shy away from mediation as they believe the terms agreed to throughout the process are nothing more than a verbal contract. The most distrusting among us insist on taking their case before a court so as to minimize the risk of the opposing party backing out of the agreement once mediation has been completed. Contrary to popular belief, all agreements reached during mediation are legally binding as long as both parties sign a contract making them so. All paperwork presented during mediation should be read and, if necessary, altered, by your legal team.
A final word
For those wishing to bring a legal dispute to an end without the lengthy and complicated process of court intervention, mediation is arguably the best route available. Those who obtain legal representation ahead of the mediation process will receive what can be described as the best of both worlds, ensuring them a conclusion that is swift, beneficial, and binding. c