What is mediation? Mediation represents a process where two parties that have a dispute work with a third party—the mediator—to come to an agreement. Mediation can help individuals or companies avoid more costly business litigation in court. However, the process does not always work.
You can learn more about mediators, the steps in mediation, and other conflict resolution processes with our team at the Buzbee Law Firm. Reach out to us for a free consultation where we can assess your case to determine if mediation is the logical next step.
What Is the Main Purpose of Mediation?
Parties in dispute choose to meet with a mediator to work through their differences. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, mediation exists as a process to expedite negotiations with the assistance of a neutral and impartial mediator.
Mediation only works if all parties want to find a resolution for their current conflict. Mediation can fall apart if both parties do not act in good faith to find a solution that works for everyone involved.
The structured process provides a hands-on way to resolve an issue, mediators:
- Look for common ground
- Handle unrealistic expectations
- Interprets concerns
- Relays information
- Defines problems
- Provides creative solutions
Mediators specialize in problem-solving, even in difficult situations.
What Is the Process of Mediation?
What is mediation? Generally, we consider mediation a problem-solving process that involves several stages. Most mediators go through six stages when working to resolve a conflict. However, this can vary based on the needs of the disputing parties.
The most common stages in the process of mediation include:
The Opening Statements
During the opening statements, the mediator gathers all disputing parties and provides an introduction. The mediator also reviews the rules of the mediation and the goals of the process.
After the mediator speaks, the disputants have an opportunity to make their opening statements. Each party should express their feelings about the dispute and the potential consequences they face.
Each party gets a chance to speak without interruption and may mention possible solutions during their statement in some cases.
In some cases, mediators allow for joint discussion after opening statements. This process enables disputing parties to respond directly to one another. However, this step varies based on the mood of the parties in dispute.
Generally, mediators request all parties to treat the mediation process as confidential. They may ask both parties to sign documents promising not to use the information discussed in mediation during litigation.
After joint discussions, if the mediator allows that step, the process moves to private caucuses. At this stage, the mediator meets with each party separately, typically going from room to room to hold discussions.
The mediator focuses on assessing the strong and weak points of each position and exchanging offers. The exchanges may go back and forth for a significant amount of time.
Eventually, the mediator ends the caucuses. At this point, they may begin joint negotiation. However, in most cases, the mediator works with the parties separately until they can come to an agreement.
Note that, in some cases, the disputing parties cannot come to an agreement. In this case, the mediator may end the mediation without reaching a settlement.
Finally, the mediator resolves the mediation. If both parties agree, the mediator draws up a document that lists all the provisions of the agreement. Representatives from both parties sign the document to complete the mediation.
In cases where the parties cannot agree, the mediator discusses their options to move forward. In some cases, they may set up further mediation, discuss arbitration, or move forward legally with a lawsuit.
When Can Mediation Help?
While mediation does not represent a solution for every dispute, it can prove an effective tool to resolve disagreements in Texas. Legal professionals may advise you to consider mediation if you have a conflict with:
- A business dispute
- Your neighbor
- Employees or your employer
Mediation may also help when handling certain family matters, like discussions regarding child custody after a divorce or the best way to provide care for an elderly relative.
The process may help in any situation where a third party could provide an unbiased opinion and advice about the best way to move forward.
Can the Court Order You to Go to Mediation?
Generally, individuals opt voluntarily to go to mediation. However, the court system may require you to engage in mediation in some situations. Typically, we see this order in family court, housing court, or even small claims court.
However, criminal courts may also require mediation in some cases. According to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), you may still request additional hearings if your mediation proves unsuccessful.
You can speak with a lawyer about the potential benefits of mediation in your situation.
How Much does Mediation Cost?
When wondering what mediation is, many people question the cost of completing the mediation process. The costs for mediation can vary, depending upon the issues you’re trying to resolve.
However, mediation generally costs less than litigation through the court system. Mediators work to resolve your issue quickly, focusing on the base conflicts and working to resolve them satisfactorily.
Some mediators charge an hourly rate for their services. However, you may also find a mediation center that could charge by the hour, use a sliding fee scale, or even work on donations.
Speak to Us to Learn More About Mediation
What is mediation? Mediation represents a process that allows you to work with a third party to resolve a dispute. You can consider this option before litigation in some cases. However, mediation may not always work.
You can learn more about all your options to handle disputes in Texas with our team at the Buzbee Law Firm. Reach out to us today by calling or completing our online contact form.