More and more people experiencing disputes recognize the full cost of litigation and are finding mediation to be a better path. Litigation is expensive, public, and the outcome is uncertain because the involved parties give up their control over the outcome and a judge decides. Additionally, litigation takes a terrible human toll and can result in irreparable damage to relationships and emotional stress.
On the other hand, there are several specific advantages to using a mediation approach.
Litigation involves a lengthy process of discovery, court pleadings, and court hearings. From the initiation to actual trial, a new court action can take several months to several years. Mediation is a less formal and significantly quicker way to resolve a dispute. By utilizing mediation to reach an agreement, parties could potentially resolve a dispute in a couple of hours.
Litigation is extremely expensive. It includes court costs and fees, attorney fees, missed work. There is also a large cost in time and energy.
Mediation is a significantly less expensive a solution, compared to litigation. Parties can mediate with or without having legal counsel. They avoid the court fees, extensive legal fees, and multiple missed workdays.
Mediation allows the parties to come up with solutions that meet their needs. Often these solutions result in win-win situations that meet the needs of both sides, whereas litigation is often a lose-lose situation.
Litigation is public. Any documents are a matter of public record. Many court hearings are open to the public.
Mediation only includes the parties and their legal counsel (if they have them). Additionally, mediators are bound by strong rules of confidentiality regarding what issues are discussed at mediation and the agreements reached between the parties. It helps to keep personal details private.
In litigation the parties have little control over the process, when things occur, or how quickly they occur. They are bound to the court's schedule and process, which is never quick and often redundant. People in litigation have given up their ability to decide how their case turns out; the Judge is in total control of the outcome and has the last word. Subsequently, the parties often feel detached, like they are not bound to the resolution.
Mediation is driven by the parties. The parties control what issues are addressed, when they are addressed and how. Any agreement that is reached requires all sides to agree and chose to bind themselves by that agreement. Because the parties are involved throughout the process, they are often more likely to adhere to the agreement, even if it involves a court order.
Mediation is an alternative form of dispute resolution for those who prefer to resolve their issues without going through litigation. Mediation is voluntary, meaning you can’t make someone participate or agree to anything if they don’t want to. It is non-binding, meaning that if the parties try it and are not able to reach an agreement, they can still go to court to attempt to get a resolution.
Mediation is geared to helping parties learn to identify an issue, come up with a solution that meets everyone’s needs and implement it. Successful mediation can reduce the need to resort to court or attorneys for future disputes, since it provides individuals with effective tools for conflict resolution.
Litigation requires you to go in and tell every bad thing you can think of about the other side. Lines are very clearly drawn and feelings are seriously hurt. Often any relationship between the parties is irreparably damaged after going through litigation.
Mediation focuses on the relationship between the parties. It is one of the most integral parts of any agreement reached.
Mediation is regularly used in family law disputes. The parties often have some type of relationship and will be required to interact again with each other in the future. For instance, if a couple is separating and has a 5-year-old child, they are going to be interacting with each other at least at exchanges and functions for the child at a minimum for another 13 years.
Anyone separated with a child knows you are actually dealing with the other parent for the rest of your life (at graduations, birthdays, weddings, births, funerals, etc.) This should be an incentive to have a reasonable relationship, where they can discuss issues in the future. Mediation as opposed to litigation helps maintain that relationship, or at least not damage it further.