What is Mediation?
Mediation is the most commonly used method of alternative dispute resolution. It is a voluntary way of resolving disputes out of court, with the help of a neutral third party, the mediator. The mediator works with the parties and their attorneys (if they have one) to help them reach an agreement that suits their own circumstances. It is most often utilized in divorce or family law matters, however, it can be used in a myriad of civil law disputes, such as construction cases, or company / partnership disputes. Mediation can be utilized at any point in a dispute.
What does the Mediator do?
The process of mediation can be in person or via electronic communication. The parties can be in the same room, or in separate rooms with the mediator shuttling between them.
The mediator will listen closely to the parties and their respective grievances, and will ask questions. They will offer a calm, reflective atmosphere, where what is said between the parties is on a strictly without prejudice and confidential basis and cannot be later used by one party against the other in court should the mediation be unsuccessful. The object of mediation is to get the parties to consider, discuss, and clarify in an open exchange, the problem or matter in dispute, and what options are available to them to resolve that dispute. A mediator may offer some practical suggestions.
Importantly, a mediator cannot give legal advice nor does he or she issue a decision or make any binding determination. The aim is to broker compromise, to find a solution agreeable to both parties, and in that way bring a conclusion to the litigation.
Do I need a Lawyer?
You do not need a lawyer to participate in mediation. However, as outlined above, a mediator cannot give legal advice. If you need clarity and guidance as to your legal rights and obligations you should consult a lawyer either beforehand or engage one to assist in the process.
Importantly, a lawyer can formalize an agreement, reached in principle through mediation, in the form of a consent order to be placed in front of a judge for approval and signature.
Benefits of Mediation
- Most obviously, mediation is far more cost effective than litigation. Even if you do engage a lawyer to assist the cost is far lower than preparing for trial.
- The growth in popularity of mediation is a partly attributable to its efficiency. It is typically quicker than the court process, which often entails waiting on the availability of judges and court time.
- Mediation is confidential, ensuring privacy. This is often very important in respect of matters involving children.
- Flexibility is a considerable benefit of mediation. Parties can agree solutions that may be beyond the power of a judge to order. It can be tailored to the individual needs of the parties and their children.
How can Hampson and Company help?
Hampson and Company’s team of family lawyers offer a wealth of understanding and expertise to assist you in the process of divorce, including division of matrimonial property, maintenance, and children law matters, and can advise whether your dispute is suitable for mediation, and represent you in the mediation process.
The foregoing discussion is for general information purposes only and not intended to be relied upon for legal advice in any specific or individual situation.