Like other California residents, you may find yourself embroiled in a dispute with another party. Perhaps you attempted to resolve the situation without involving the courts, but those efforts got you nowhere. Now, you are facing the possibility of filing a lawsuit.
If this is not your first choice as a resolution method, you may want to know that there is another way. Mediation is an alternative method of resolving disputes that has worked well for others in the past. You may also be considering this method but need answers to some questions first.
Can mediation be used in any type of dispute?
Yes, mediation can help resolve just about any type of civil dispute. However, under certain circumstances, it may not be your best choice. Consider the following situations:
- Creating a legal precedent or sending a message remains a priority for you. Since mediation does not set precedents, the results of the mediation of a particular dispute will not apply to any similar disputes that may arise in the future.
- Getting the other party to admit guilt in connection with the dispute remains a priority for you. Mediation does not require an admission of guilt to be successful. Compromise holds greater importance in this process.
- Believing that a jury would award a large settlement may preclude the use of mediation. Since mediation helps the parties reach a compromise, it doesn't necessarily mean a large payout.
If your goals include any of the above, mediation may not be a good fit.
Reaching a fair resolution to your dispute
If your focus is more on resolving the dispute in a way that allows you to feel you received fair treatment and you reached a satisfactory agreement, then mediation may be for you. Because you participate in creating the agreement, you receive the opportunity to present your side of the story and then come to a compromise with which both parties can live. No judge or jury forces you into a resolution with which you may not agree.
What to expect during the mediation process
If you agree to participate in mediation, you can expect the following to occur:
- The mediator will confirm your goals and outline the rules of the process.
- You confer your thoughts regarding what the dispute involves without input from the other side. The other party receives the same opportunity.
- The mediator will oversee discussions regarding the dispute and ways to resolve it with both parties present, and perhaps, with each party individually.
- Once you and the other party reach an agreement, it's put into writing.
- If you don't reach an agreement, the mediator will advise you of the next steps and point out the issues on which you were able to agree.
It's important to note that the mediator does not represent either party. It would be beneficial to have your own counsel to represent you during this process.
Even though the atmosphere of mediation is intentionally informal, that does not mean that legalities are not involved. In order to ensure that your rights remain protected throughout the process, you may want to consider having a legal advocate at your side to answer questions and provide you with legal advice as the negotiations progress.