In mediation, the couple, with the help of the mediator, works out agreements on the issue, or issues, the couple brought to the table. Some agreements are reached quickly, but other times it is more difficult and takes time and work to reach an agreement. The mediator’s role is to assist in the decision making by helping people identify their goals, open the lines of communication, offer alternative resolution ideas, helping the couple understand what the “legal” result would likely be if the issue was presented to the court, and help the individuals understand the other’s perspective in an effort to reach a resolution.
The mediator empowers the parties to reach their own agreements. Mediation provides a focused atmosphere wherein the mediator helps keep the discussion to the issues at hand.
There are a multitude of benefits to using mediation:
Parties in control. The main advantage and benefit of mediation is that you are in control. You and the other party determine the outcome. Not the mediator, a judge or an arbitrator.
Collaborative versus adversarial. Mediation is a collaborative process that promotes healthy interactions between the parties. Taking part in mediation allows the parties to develop communication skills to work through this conflict and future conflicts. Working cooperatively, mediation participants find common ground for creating mutually beneficial agreements.
Decreases hostility and tension. Mediation reduces the hostility, tension and misunderstandings that are usually prevalent when people are in conflict with one another. By identifying each parties goals and interests, the mediator helps the parties feel heard and move toward resolution.
Better communication. Parties learn how to communicate with each other about difficult, sensitive issues in a non-threatening and non-accusatory manner. Their improved communication skills set a pattern for future interactions and problem solving.
Privacy protected. Mediation sessions are held in private conference rooms. Your personal issues are not made public in a courtroom full of strangers. Everything that is discussed in mediation is confidential.
Flexible and creative. The court system can only offer the limited solutions allowed under the law. This may mean that both parties lose out. Working together, mediation participants craft creative solutions to their conflicts. Because you the other party know your situation best, it’s much more satisfying than 50-50 compromises or court-imposed remedies.
Parties set the schedule. Unlike litigation, where court appearances are determined by the court’s schedule, parties in mediation can arrange their mediation sessions according to personal scheduling needs. This can include the logistics of the session such as the length and number of breaks, as well as structuring sessions in order to complete any pre-determined time lines.
Preserves and heals relationships. Sometimes people need or want to maintain a relationship after the conflict is resolved. For example, if the mediating couple are parents, then they will have to continue a relationship for years. Mediation helps reduce the likelihood of estrangement and may even help you and your co-parnet move beyond the pain and conflict and establish a relationship with greater understanding and empathy.
Improves future problem solving. Parties are able to create agreements with enough structure for predictability and enough flexibility to adapt to change. Their agreements can even address how they intend to deal with future problems. Courts are limited to resolving the current conflict presented to them and cannot offer long-term solutions.
Lower costs and less time consuming. When compared to traditional litigation and other adversarial processes, mediation will help you save time and money. Resolutions can be achieved within hours or weeks, rather than months or years. The difference between paying for two attorneys to litigate versus one mediator, whose fees can be split, is significant even if mediation lasts longer than expected. There are far fewer expenses than litigation and many of them can be shared.
Higher satisfaction and compliance. The majority of people who mediate rather than go to court are satisfied with the process as well as the outcomes. Additionally, mediated agreements have a higher rate of compliance than litigated settlements and court orders.