Many courts and community programs offer free or subsidized mediation services. Private mediators charge on an hourly basis. Mediation can be a more cost-effective way to resolve disputes than litigation. Mediation can also be more informal, flexible and time efficient. In many cases, mediation will result in a settlement that is satisfactory to both parties.
Mediation can be conducted even before a lawsuit is filed, and can significantly shorten the timeframe for resolution of a dispute. It is also a confidential process, which allows participants to express themselves openly and candidly without fear that anything they say may be used against them later in court.
In addition, mediation provides a venue where the parties are encouraged to discuss feelings about their dispute, which can lead to a more understanding of why actions that caused the conflict took place. This often promotes movement toward a solution and can preserve the continuing relationship between neighbors, co-workers, divorcing parents or business partners.
The mediator will begin the joint session by encouraging each participant to present what they view as the facts and desired outcome of their dispute. The mediator will also ask questions designed to help the parties think more broadly about possible solutions to their dispute. The mediator will sometimes ask a question that is designed to create doubt in an advocate’s mind about the strength of their position or to make them reconsider their own perspective. The mediator will then hold separate caucuses with each party and/or their counsel, allowing them to explain and enlarge upon their positions in private.