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Definition - What does Mediation mean?

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution strategy which is used to avoid a civil trial. Mediation can be voluntary, compelled by court, or forced by contract or legislation. Mediation is often used in housing courts, small claims courts, and family courts to negotiate a decision.

Benefits of Mediation

As the cost and length of time to take a civil case to court has grown, the use of mediation has increased in popularity. Mediation allows for a case to be presented before an independent, neutral, third-party mediator. Unlike arbitration, however, the mediator does not offer a resolution, but rather offers expert advice and possible solutions to the dispute.

Mediation is often favored over trial because it is quicker, taking only days and weeks. A trial, in contrast, can take months or years. Mediation also is less expensive, less formal, may give better results, offers control and flexibility to the resolution process, can be more amicable, and offers greater compliance.

Disadvantages of Mediation

Although mediation offers many benefits over a trial, there are some disadvantages. The main disadvantage of mediation is that it does not guarantee that the issues will be resolved, forcing some cases to move to court. Another disadvantage of mediation is that in some cases one party may simply decide not to cooperate, making the mediation process useless. Finally, mediation may, at times, just be a tool for one party to find out valuable information about the other person's case with no intent on finding a settlement agreement.

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