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February 5, 2022

What is Mediation?

Amongst the various methods for alternative dispute resolution, mediation tends to be one of the more common processes for conflict resolution.

Mediation is a legal process wherein a mutually selected, alternative dispute resolution professional, called a mediator, assists two parties in resolving their minor or major dispute. Whether the issue at hand is simple or complex, mediation is a cost-effective and neutral means for conflict resolution without having to incur the costs of court litigation.

This article will explain what mediation is, the typical process of mediation, and when one might choose mediation instead of arbitration, litigation or any other legal processes to resolve cases.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a legal process led by any 3rd party (such as a therapist, counselor, lawyers, or trained formal mediators, etc.), wherein two parties meet to facilitate dialogue and resolve disputes in order to reach a mutual agreement. The procedure allows individuals to voluntarily work through their disagreements without engaging in further dispute or going to court.

In this form of alternative dispute resolution, no single party directs an outcome. The mediator helps each party look at the facts available, come up with their own viable solution to solve the problem at hand, and settle the dispute. In the United States, the mediation process is governed by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) and mediated by the American Arbitration Association (AAA). The mediation process is non-binding, meaning the parties involved are not required to accept the proposed resolution during mediation. However, once a settlement is reached and executed, the terms of that agreement are legally binding.

Choosing Mediation for a Case

When choosing mediation, parties should be sure this is the best option for their case.There are less fees involved with mediation. Mediation can be done without lawyer representation because both parties agree to hire a mediator. And something most people don’t take into consideration is mediation is better suited for mental health. The process of mediation can ease the emotional strain and drain that comes with going to court for most issues.

Mediation is a viable option to non-criminal cases, and non-violent criminal cases, including the following:

  • Divorce
  • Family
  • Child Custody
  • Property
  • Verbal or Sexual Harassment
  • Business

Mediation is also useful in disputes that do not involve a legal issue. For example, conflict between neighbors or roommates about the use of space or minor encroachments.

For parties involved in family court, divorce or guardianship, or even business mediation, oftentimes mediation is a suitable alternative to help solve these issues. This can be done through each party agreeing to resolve their dispute with a mediator.

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Take a look at the differences between mediation, arbitration and other legal procedures to help determine the best method to resolve your dispute.

Mediation vs. Arbitration

In mediation, the resolution reached is not binding in a court of law unless finalized in an agreement by both parties. In arbitration, the resolution and settlement is binding in a court of law. Mediation can be completed by any 3rd party (such as a therapist, counselor, lawyers, formal mediators, etc) and is usually recommended for civil disputes. Arbitration is executed by a formal, licensed arbitrator or panel of arbitrators and often used for commercial or business disputes, sometimes mandatory as an obligation of a contract, as opposed to going into litigation. Agreements reached in mediation are available for public record. Agreements reached in arbitration are completely private.

Mediation vs. Conciliation

Mediation and conciliation are very similar alternative dispute resolution methods. Conciliation is basically a highly skilled negotiation where the ADR professional works to understand the requirements between the two parties involved to see which of the requirements can be met for an immediate resolution. Conciliation is often used in labor disputes, like between a company and unions, and can be executed by a mediator.

Mediation vs. Litigation

As mentioned before, mediation is recommended for civil disputes and the resolutions reached in mediation are not binding in a court of law. The litigation process requires a lawyer. Parties can choose to litigate civil or commercial disputes; however they are high-cost and strictly completed in the courts – taking longer to reach an agreement. The judgements are made by a judge, not an ADR professional, and binding in the court of law. Disputes in mediation can be executed by any 3rd party and are more cost-effective.

Mediation vs. Negotiation

Mediation is a very formal alternative dispute resolution method of negotiation. Negotiation can be used across all legal processes for very simple disputes, disagreements, or as a matter of compromise.

Mediation vs. Adjudication

Adjudication is when the courts refer a dispute to be resolved outside of the courts through mediation. These disputes don’t have to initially go through litigation before being referred to mediation, but if this is the judgment, it’s considered adjudication.

The Fourth Party App and Mediation Services

Busy alternative dispute resolution professionals in mediation need to maximize their time, money, and client relationships with smart, useful features. That’s where we come in. Fourth Party is the best app for mediators and arbitrators to execute safe and secure conflict resolution. When ADR professionals are on-the-move, they can find ease in our dynamic note-taking tool during in-person and virtual hearings. Also, close your cases with confidence when you try our post-reporting feature that helps you navigate compliance at the state and federal level.

The Fourth Party app is intuitive, designed to help ADR professionals like mediators and arbitrators manage tasks, streamline negotiations, and track results – all in one place.

Click here to book a demo with us at Fourth Party. We look forward to getting to know you and doing our part to improve the dispute resolution process.