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Legal disputes happen all the time. While it may not be a normal part of your daily life, it is a common occurrence. You may think that to resolve legal matters you need to appear in front of a judge in court. Sometimes, this is the case, especially when you need to ensure parties are being held appropriately and legally accountable. Other times, though, you can settle disputes with a mediator that’s much more cost-effective and focused on ensuring each party is happy with the outcome. 

Keep reading to learn more about third-party mediation!

What does a mediator do?

A mediator is a neutral, disinterested third party that will listen to each side of the conflict in order to help everyone involved come to a fair conclusion that best suits everyone involved. There’s no concern with vindication or assigning liability or fault, but simply to come to a resolution that everyone can agree on. 

The ultimate role of a mediator isn’t to come to a decision, unlike the role of a judge during court proceedings. Through mediated discussion, parties involved will converse over the issues at hand and what their ideal outcome will look like in order to come to a common ground. Mediators ultimately work to guide the conflict in order to ensure it’s fair, civil, and productive. 

Benefits of a mediator

There are numerous benefits to using a mediator during a variety of conflicts. Some of these include:

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Better outcomes
  • More civil discussions throughout conflicts
  • A quicker resolution
  • More confidential
  • Less formal

Following a resolution, each party will sign a Memorandum of Dispute so that if there are any issues following the agreement, a judge can enforce the previously agreed upon decision. 

5 signs it’s time for a mediator

There are a variety of situations that could warrant a mediator including things like custody agreements, child support, alimony and spousal maintenance, distribution of assets, and more. Signs your conflict needs a mediator include:

1. The parties involved can’t come to an agreement

An obvious sign that it’s time to bring in a mediator is that the parties involved are unable to come to a resolution on their own. Regardless of what the dispute is over, growing conflict can ruin relationships, cost you unnecessary money, and feed anxiety. Mediators know just how to ease the tension of a variety of situations while maintaining civil communication focused on the problem at hand. 

2. Issues with the cost of litigation

Not everyone can afford to go to court. According to NW Sidebar, “attorney fees, filing and service fees, expert fees, court reporter fees, document charges, etc.” can leave you in financial ruin over something that could have been solved more easily and cost-affordably through ADR and mediation.

3. One or more parties are being unreasonable

Whether your dispute is about who’s going to have the kids for Christmas or who’s going to get the dog after a devastating long-term breakup, it’s easy for the parties involved to lose sight of what’s actually best for everyone. No matter who’s being unreasonable, a mediator can help you come to a conclusion that’s fair for everyone in a manner that’s quicker and more cost-effective than court. 

4. One or more parties can’t make a decision

Decisions can be, or can at least feel, too final for some people. Because of this, they keep “[moving] the goalpost” or avoiding making a decision. This can make a simple dispute drag on and keep you all from moving on from the situation and feeling satisfied with the results. In these instances, a third-party mediator can help speed up the process, help the anxious parties feel better about the outcome, and get an agreement down in writing so there’s no more flexibility for flip-flopping. 

5. A desire to salvage the relationship

Because judges don’t know any of the involved parties very well, they aren’t too concerned with ensuring their decision makes everyone happy. Mediators, however, make it a goal to get everyone into a place where they do feel satisfied with the outcome. If you have the desire to maintain a relationship following this conflict, a mediator can help make that happen.

Not only will you both feel happy about the resolution, but you’ll both learn better ways to communicate throughout conflicts in the future and a mediator will maintain civility throughout the altercation, making it less likely you’ll say something you’re going to regret.  

The bottom line

Mediators are a great option for Alternative Dispute Resolution when you just can’t come to a conclusion on your own. It happens to many of us in a variety of settings whether it’s with your ex-spouse, a neighbor, or another party. We’re here to help! Contact us to learn more about mediation and how we can help you work through your conflict. 

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