What is Mediation?

Mediation is a conversation among a mediator and people who are having a dispute.  Mediation helps people express themselves in a way that makes them feel heard, and allows others to hear them.  By improving communication, mediation makes constructive dispute resolution possible.

Mediators believe that the people having the dispute are the ones best able to find a solution that works for them.  Mediators are not like lawyers, who give advice; and they are not like judges, who decide how the dispute will be resolved.  Mediators give people the power to resolve their own disputes, by moving their conversation along in a constructive way.

A mediator listens carefully to what each person says, without judging whether that person is right or wrong.  A person who does not feel judged can express himself or herself more fully.  This brings more information to light; and more information leads to better decision making.  In mediation, there is no right or wrong way to resolve a dispute.  As long as it isn't illegal or immoral, the best solution is one that works for all of the people involved!

Mediation is confidential.  People can discuss things without worrying that what they say might be used against them later.  This also leads to fuller self-expression, more complete information, and better decision making.

Mediation is much less expensive and lengthy than a will or probate contest or a divorce proceeding.  In a will or probate contest or a divorce proceeding, each party must pay his or her lawyer - usually by the hour - and must pay court costs and other expenses, such as transcripts of court proceedings and depositions, expert witness fees and travel expenses.  The will or probate contest or a divorce proceeding can take months or even years, depending on the schedule of the Court and the lawyers, and on how long it takes each side to gather the information needed to prove its case.  In mediation, each person pays a portion of the mediator's fee for the mediation session.  There are no lawyers (unless the participants decide to involve them) and no court-related costs.  The participants decide how many mediation sessions are needed.  If there are multiple sessions, they take place according to the participants' timetable.  Since there is no need to "prove" anything, the information needed to look for a solution is developed at the mediation session.

Mediation is less draining on the participants' time and energy.  Court appearances are time consuming, and a courtroom can be daunting.  Parties are expected to participate for as long as it takes.  Each party can only express himself or herself through a lawyer, and the lawyer decides what a party can and cannot say.  A mediation session takes place in the mediator's office (or some other location the participants choose) and usually lasts a few hours.  The participants or the mediator can decide when to take a break, or even to stop the mediation altogether.  Each person can speak for himself or herself, and can say what he or she needs to say, as long as it doesn't cause a communication breakdown.

What you can accomplish through mediation:

Decision-making >>> The participants >>> The Court
Confidentiality >>> Completely confidential >>> Only if granted by the Court
Self-expression >>> Participants speak for themselves >>> Parties only speak through lawyers, who only say what the lawyers believe is advisable
Information access >>> What participants believe is relevant >>> What the lawyers believe is relevant and the rules of evidence allow
Expenses >>> Mediator's fee per sessionLawyers fees, court costs, discovery costs (e.g., deposition reporter and transcript), witness fees, etc >>> Lawyers' fees, court costs, discovery costs (e.g., deposition reporter and transcript), witness fees, etc
Timing >>> According to participants' and mediator's schedule, for as long as participants determine >>> According to Court and lawyers' schedules, until lawsuit is decided by Court or settled by parties and their lawyers
Outcome >>> What participants decide >>> What the Court decides