Choosing the right mediator
Mediation is a dispute resolution process where a third-part legal mediator assists with negotiating a voluntary settlement. It’s an increasingly popular alternative to resolving legal disputes in the court room and tends to be far less expensive than traditional litigation, and much faster. You could for example come to a settlement after only one day of mediation, versus several years in a drawn out courtroom dispute.
Mediation sometimes get a wrap for being a ‘softer’ approach because of its lessened focus on pure, hard facts but a good third-party mediator can undoubtedly secure a better outcomes for both parties involved then most litigation. An experienced mediator will be able to quickly compel parties to agree on an equitable, agreeable settlement helping to minimize conflict and put participants on a path toward more positives emotions and outcomes, rather than putting them in a position to view each other as adversaries. For this reason, mediation is a great choice for family matters like separation and divorce.
Finding the right mediator is important to getting the most out of the process however, as a poor fit could lead to a failed settlement and more expenses incurred during the negotiation process.
Identifying a good mediator
Good mediators will have a clear process in place and good, professional manner to put both parties at ease from the beginning. They should also be an impartial, third-party advocate, so that proceedings are not weighted in favour of either party. A good mediator is one that both parties can agree on and feel comfortable with.
There are a few important things that should happen in any mediation session, this includes a realistic evaluation of the dispute and negotiations that continue until both parties have put their best offers on the table. Without a third-party legal practitioner to ensure these two things are taking place, it’s far less likely that a professional mediation solution will be reached.
To get a good picture of the dispute, and most probable outcomes, there needs to be a full discussion on the issues up for debate. In most cases, this should take place with both parties present, so both viewpoints are heard. Discussing in this way will help the a good mediator to gauge the intensity of emotion involved and the issues at play in the dispute – this will put them in a better position to secure the best outcome for the parties involved.
Following a joint session, a good mediator will usually meet individually with both sides. Issues can be discussed at length, often with the view of identifying the strengths or weaknesses of a case and identifying the outcomes that the party is seeking. During this meeting, the mediator will make sure that both parties have a realistic view of the likely outcome, and reasonable expectations.
An experienced mediator will be able to push negotiations forwards until best offers are on the table; this is usually the point at which a settlement is reached.
A skilled mediator can push parties beyond an impasse, keep things calm, and continually evaluate proceeding to facilitate discussion and push proceedings forward. Most people will settle when working with a highly skilled mediator.
The style of mediation is up to the individual professional, as different people prefer different approaches. When considering mediation, consider the style of mediation that would be more helpful. Do you require a facilitative approach that will allow you to reach your own conclusion, without too much input or strong opinions, or do you need a mediator who can act in a more therapeutic capacity?
Keeping these points in mind should help you when moving forward with mediation.