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What is Mediation?

The term "mediation" broadly refers to any instance in which a third party helps others reach an agreement. More specifically, mediation has a structure, timetable, and dynamics that "ordinary" negotiation lacks. The process is private, confidential, and the decisions are enforceable by law. The mediator facilitates the process by helping the parties find common ground and dispose of unrealistic expectations. Mediation is becoming a more internationally accepted solution for peacefully ending conflict.

The process is private, confidential, and the decisions are enforceable by law

Mediation helps parties in a disagreement settle their disputes without having to go to court. Mediation has the parties take time to hear one another’s position and work toward a mutually acceptable outcome. Mediation aims to minimize the harm that can come from disagreements, such as hostility or “demonizing” of the other party, and instead maximize any area of agreement and find a way of preventing the areas of disagreement from interfering with the process of seeking a resolution.

Mediators use various techniques to open dialogue and aims to help the parties reach an agreement. Mediators seek a win-win resolution to the conflict. As the practice gains popularity, training, certification, and licensing programs are becoming more commonplace and are helping produce trained professional mediators who are committed to the discipline.

Some of the most notable benefits of mediation include:

While a mediator may charge a fee comparable to that of an attorney, the mediation process generally takes much less time than moving a case through standard legal channels. While a case in the hands of a lawyer or a court may take months or years to resolve, mediation usually achieves a resolution in a fraction of the time. Taking less time also means spending less money on hourly fees and costs.

Ultimately, the agreement that can be reached by both parties in mediation will be more favorable than anything they could afford to achieve if they went to court, because of the high costs of attorney’s fees and the length of time required to settle a case in court.

While court hearings are public, one of the cornerstones of mediation is that it remains strictly confidential. No one but the parties involved and the mediator or mediators know what happened. Confidentiality in mediation is so important that the legal system gives mediators protection from being forced to testify in court about the content or progress of mediation.

Mediation also increases the control that the parties have over the resolution. In court, the parties obtain a resolution, but the control ultimately resides with the judge or jury. However, a judge or jury often cannot legally provide the solutions that emerge in mediation. A mediator may offer creative solutions to assist the parties in achieving a final settlement by interpreting the concerns that each side has and facilitating communication by reframing issues as they relate to the parties involved.

Because each party has more control over the process itself, mediation is more likely to produce a result that is mutually agreeable, which can also help preserve relationships that might otherwise be destroyed through a lengthy process of fighting in court.

The outcomes in a mediation case are achieved by the parties working together and generally leads to more mutually agreeable results. Accordingly, compliance with a mediated agreement is usually quite high. This compliance also has the effect of reducing costs, because the parties do not have to employ an attorney to enforce the agreement later.

This compliance also has the effect of reducing costs

Parties to a mediation are typically ready to work mutually toward a resolution. In most circumstances, the mere fact that parties are willing to mediate means that they are ready to "move" their position and be amenable to some of the positions held by the other side involved. Because of this mutuality, one part can be more understanding of the other party and they are more likely to work on closing the gaps and finding common ground.

This benefit of mediation is particularly valuable in matters involving an ongoing relationship, such as a in a small business or family situation, where the parties deal with one another on an ongoing basis and hold a high importance of preserving the relationship after the matter is resolved.

Mediators are trained in working through difficult situations. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator and guides the parties through the process by keeping the channels of communication open from beginning to end. The mediator helps the parties think "outside of the box" for possible solutions to the dispute, broadening the range of possible solutions.

Many of these creative solutions achieved through mediation would not be possible in court because of the tendency of a judge or jury to decide who is “right” and who is “wrong,” rather than what the best possible outcome for both sides may be.

Refer to our Biblical support page to learn more about what the Bible says regarding alternative dispute resolution and why mediation should be the first step for believers involved in conflict.

Learn How Mediation Can Help You

Do you want to explore the benefits of mediation and learn how Christian mediation can help in your specific situation? Contact Christian Mediation online or by calling (602) 340-8400 to schedule your free consultation with a member of our nationwide network of Christian mediators.

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