Mediation is defined as the, “intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or compromise.” There’s no judge, no jury. Legally speaking, it’s when two people or two groups bring a dispute to an independent person. They then work toward reaching a solution. It’s a good option to consider if you’re in need of conflict resolution and want to retain more control over the situation.
Reaching reasonable outcomes equals the central focus of mediation. The difference being that you’re able to bring emotional commentary into the conversation that would otherwise not be utilized in court.
Meet your mediator
The neutral, third person who helps resolve your dispute is known as a mediator. They don’t have the power to make a decision in your case if an agreement isn't reached, but they endeavor to settle the disagreement. The mediator listens to both sides as they explore options for settlement with you. They help to clarify the issues driving the dispute in order to provide an appropriate settlement that meets the needs of both parties. The key to mediation: it's a voluntary agreement. Both parties must approve the decision in order to avoid the next step, court.
When to consider mediation
Most often, mediation works for non-criminal matters and claims that aren’t centered on a legal issue. Mediation is an appropriate next step to consider, especially in situations like divorce, child custody, and general disputes with family, neighbors, business partners, landlords/tenants, and labor unions/management. Any situation where each side doesn’t want to compromise makes a good case for mediation.
Why use mediation
More than 90 percent of mediations lead to long-term conclusions with both parties staying content. It’s a quick and inexpensive option as well. Mediation can take place within weeks after requesting a meeting, while it can take significantly longer to get a court date scheduled. According to Cobb County records, the mediation in Atlanta costs between $95-$300 per hour, and both parties typically split fees.
Mediation is also easier than going to court because you keep control over when the meeting will take place. You get to select a time that works for all parties rather than getting a date and time from the court. You’re also able to communicate directly with the other side, engaging in a conversation to help reach a resolution rather than having to go through lawyers.
Although it can feel like a more casual process, mediation remains totally confidential. Statements made during mediation and documents prepared to use at the meeting are not admissible in any future legal proceedings without the written consent of both parties. If you try to resolve your dispute with mediation and it doesn’t work, what you discuss does not have to carry over into the courtroom.
What happens during mediation
The day of your mediation session, you’ll start with an explanation of the rules and processes by the mediator. After that, each party gets an opportunity to describe the dispute in their own words. The mediator asks questions to ensure they fully understand the conflict. If they want to speak about an issue in more depth, private meetings with each party may happen.
Once the mediator has a full understanding of the situation, they’ll offer up possible solutions, which both sides then discuss. Negotiation then takes place in order to reach an agreeable resolution. Each party signs a written statement if they reach an agreement. This document is admissible in court.
You do not need to have a lawyer present during mediation unless it would make you more comfortable. There’s no penalty either way. They are often most helpful prior to deciding on mediation. Their experience guides you through deciding whether or not to seek mediation. If your lawyer does join you during mediation, they'll support you during negotiation.
Locating an experienced mediator
Just like selecting your own attorney, you have the ability to choose a mediator for your case. With extensive trial experience, Kathryn
Based in The Patterson Cozzo Law Firm, mediations take place in a comfortable setting, unlike what a courtroom often feels like. Two large conference rooms with separate break-out rooms are available in addition to free Wi-FI and access to technology for PowerPoint presentations and video conferencing. Click here to learn more and book your mediation appointment.