Do the words, “I’ll see you in court!” have a familiar ring to you? Have you ever wished that you could have your day in court so that you can get all that you justly deserve? If your answer to either of these questions is “yes,” it may surprise you to know that getting to court these days isn’t as easy as you might think! In fact, only about 3% of all civil cases, including divorce petitions, end up being heard by a judge or magistrate.
The primary reason why so few cases end with trial is that all civil litigants (yes, even divorcing couples) are required to participate in mediation before trial, a requirement that unclogs the court dockets and offers parties an opportunity to save themselves the time, expense, and emotional anguish of days, weeks, and months preparing for what can be no more than a day of a very uncertain outcome.
What’s up with this mediation requirement? Is it worthwhile? Your lawyer didn’t mention this (well, she may have alluded to it in passing) when she went on about what a great case you have.
Here are eight reasons why mediation may be a good choice for you:
REASON 1: Mediation empowers the parties to make the decisions.
You and the other party − not the mediator, judge or arbitrator − determine the outcome. Consequently, there are no big surprises.
REASON 2: Mediation is flexible and encourages creativity.
Working together, you and the other mediation participant(s) can craft creative solutions that address the particular nuances of your conflict. These solutions are likely to be much more satisfying than 50-50 compromises or court-imposed remedies.
REASON 3: Mediation promotes healthy interactions between parties.
Let’s face it: When we’re in a fighting mode, interactions can get ugly and make our lives miserable. A skilled mediator can help parties reduce hostility and distrust, clear up misunderstandings, and find common ground for creating mutually-beneficial agreements. Moreover, at it’s best, mediation can help parties move beyond the conflict and reestablish their relationships with greater understanding and empathy.
REASON 4: Mediation can provide a framework for future problem solving.
Parties are able to create agreements with enough structure for predictability and enough flexibility to adapt to change. Their agreements can even address how they intend to deal with future problems. Moreover, many former mediation participants claim that the mediator’s skill in guiding constructive conversations about difficult, sensitive issues set a pattern for the parties’ future interactions and problem-solving.
REASON 5: Mediation protects the privacy of the parties.
Mediation sessions are held in a private office or conference room. There is no public docket, so no one else need learn about your personal issues. Also, Washington law protects the confidentiality of communications made by parties in mediation and prohibits the use of these communications in subsequent formal proceedings such as arbitration or trial.
REASON 6: Mediation allows parties to set their own pace.
Even with a case schedule, the pace of litigation can be frustratingly slow, unpredictable, and/or inflexible. For the most part, however, mediation schedules can be arranged to accommodate personal scheduling needs as well as emotional and logistical requirements for pacing and time frame.
REASON 7: Mediation usually is much more affordable and time-saving than litigation and other forms of dispute resolution.
When compared to traditional litigation and other adversarial processes, mediation will help you save time and money. Resolutions can be achieved within hours or weeks, rather than months or years. There are far fewer expenses and many of them can be shared.
REASON 8: Mediation produces more satisfying and endurable outcomes.
Research shows that the majority of people who mediate rather than go to court are satisfied with the process as well as the outcomes. Mediated agreements have a higher rate of compliance than court orders.
If you’ve tried mediation, please let me know what you think!