In an ever complex and overcrowded court system, the benefits of mediation over litigation continue to grow. Mediation is the process in which two or more litigants decide to attempt to reach an agreement through a neutral third-party in order to resolve a dispute that is between them.
Mediation allows the parties to ultimately decide what result or course of action they are going to take in resolving their dispute or in deciding whether they are going to pursue their claim through the court system.
Among the benefits of mediation are that the parties get to decide who is going to mediate their dispute. If one party is not fond of a particular mediator, they can not be forced to use that mediator and can choose another mediator. Each mediator has their own style which sometimes jives with both parties and sometimes does not work with one or both of the parties. Being able to decide on a mediator is one step in an effective mediation process.
The costs of mediation versus litigation are minimal in comparison. During the mediation process the parties generally split the costs of the mediator or determine a prearranged percentage of what part of the mediator’s fees each party is going to pay. In addition, an all day mediation session, when each party splits the hourly fee, is considerably less expensive than hours, weeks and days of pre-trial prep, witness prep, and a trial.
Unlike a Judge, jury or attorneys, the mediator is neutral. During the mediation the mediator is not permitted to pick sides or pick a winner. The mediator’s job is to create an environment which can help facilitate a resolution of the claims between the parties and assist them in reaching an agreement outside of court.
The mediation process is a confidential process. Nothing that is mentioned during mediation can be used in court in the context of the mediation session. Each party is free to exchange offers and counter-offers without the fear that the other party could use that offer as a statement regarding what the other person was prepared to agree to during the mediation session. Additionally, the mediator is not generally permitted to discuss the mediation session with anyone at any time, including with the Judge should the matter not be resolved and end up going to Court.
Mediation allows the parties complete control of the outcome. The parties are permitted to make agreements that the Judge may not have the time, patience or inclination to make. Each party can introduce ideas or concepts for resolution that may be beyond a particular Judge’s willingness to consider or to even entertain. At the end of the mediation session, the parties can either agree or disagree; after trial, the Judge has an obligation to make a decision and must make a decision taking into account the matters that were before the Court. Mediation allows for a more wide approach that the parties control rather than the Judge or jury.
This website contains general information about common family law matters in North Carolina. However, please remember that every divorce or family law case is different. Websites are no substitute for genuine legal advice from an attorney and the information here may not apply to your specific case.
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