What is mediation and why is it a great way to solve a dispute?
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From the O’Connor Law Firm, I am a Rule 17 certified mediator here in Missouri and what that means is I’ve gone through the formal training to be an official, I guess what you call it, certified mediator. Which allows me to assist people in resolving disputes which can be really good thing in terms of saving money, time, and a lot of hassle and heart.
Now, a lot of people have a misconception about what mediation is and the process that it goes through. So first I want to tell you what’s not. It is not an arbitration. An arbitration is where someone other than a judge, what’s called an arbitrator, hears both sides of an argument, and they can present evidence, things of that nature.
Arbitration is not Mediation
And then the arbitrator makes a decision. That is not what a mediator does. A mediator listens to both sides and facilitates resolution. They don’t decide the case. You don’t have to sell it. Here’s how it works. There are several types of cases that could be mediated, like a divorce case, whether it involves the property or custody or visitation or who gets what percentage of a retirement fund, things of that nature.
The mediator will sit down with both sides at the beginning and go through what the expectations are. This is what the mediator will do. And in this process he will separate the parties and talk to each of them individually going back and forth between the parties until they come to an agreement or don’t come to an agreement. The rule is that a good agreement is one that everybody equally dislikes.
Mediation usually has the same result as court cases
So for example, in a car accident case, where someone is injured in an auto accident and insurance company and person or the plaintiff was injured wanted to resolve the value of the claim, the mediator would go back and forth on the value of their claim. They would look at things like the medical bills, the risk of future injury, pain and suffering, how much work time they lost. And they would look at the jury verdict services and see what that is worth and also the time value of the money. What does that mean? Ten thousand dollars today is worth more than ten thousand dollars two years from now.
Also the cost of litigation is factored in. For example, if you’re in a divorce and you spend twenty-five thousand dollars on your lawyer, and it takes you a year and a half to two years to get divorced and go through the whole process. You end up obtaining, let’s say, sixty percent your spouse’s 401K. That is fifty thousand dollars. You may be up twenty-five thousand dollars, but you had to go through that whole process in the meantime. Most cases turn out about the same no the matter how much you spend on your lawyer over time.
Skilled Mediation saves time, money and heartache
So you want to keep in mind the value of mediation is to bring the parties together with a skilled mediator, to point out the strengths and weaknesses in the case. You also have a reasonable loose prediction of what the judge may or may not do in the case and that’s important to know.
That’s why you want to have a mediator who has experience both in the area or field of practice and in the courts where your case is pending. For example, I practiced in Jackson, Cannon, Platte, Clay, and all over the Kansas City metropolitan area and cases throughout Missouri and elsewhere and the different jurisdictions. So I tend to know what the judges propensities or habits are on different legal issues so I can share that with people that I’m helping mediate.
If you can spend thousand dollars or eight hundred dollars on a mediator and resolve a case
in a day versus spending ten thousand dollars over a year fighting about things, you can see the value of mediation. So I encourage people to consider mediation as a viable alternative. Plus the best part about mediation, it gives you control. When you have a judge decide a case you don’t have control. Once you present your evidence, it’s up to the judge. He or she is going to decide the facts of the case.
And if it’s about the children? Their future is in the judge’s hands. If it’s about your pocketbook? Your injury or a contract dispute or things of that nature, that’s all in the judge’s hands. And in a mediation, you can control the outcome. You know that you’re going to get X number of dollars on a car accident case, or you’re going to have a certain parenting plan if your parent is going through a divorce.
It gives you the ability to know what the outcome is and that’s the value of mediation. It saves you time, hassle and money. It is in your best interest to learn more about it. And that’s what mediation is.