It is a way for adverse parties to use a neutral third-party, the Mediator, to assist them in voluntarily settling their conflict. Mediation is typically the final opportunity for the disputing parties to control the process as once the dispute reaches trial, either a judge or jury of strangers will make the decisions for you.
What exactly is mediation?
What does a Mediator do?
The mediator is typically certified by the State Supreme Court here in Florida and acts as a neutral and independent third-party. The mediator is chosen by both parties involved in the dispute.
How does Mediation work?
Opening – The adverse parties and their attorneys meet with the Mediator, and both sides have an opportunity to present their side of the story, their “Opening Statement.”. The Mediator typically takes initial notes from these statements; then, the parties break out into separate rooms.
Caucus or Private Session – After the parties move into their separate rooms, the Mediator meets with each group individually discussing issues raised, gathering information, and relaying offers or demands.
Settlement Agreement – Should the parties come to an agreement, the parties will draft and sign a mediation agreement setting forth the terms and conditions agreed to by both sides. At that time, the parties have an enforceable contract. In the event of a court case, a notice of dismissal is filed with the court.
Impasse – Sometimes the issues are too thorny and the problems too complex to settle in mediation. When this occurs, the mediator notifies the court of the impasse, and any information obtained during the mediation is kept confidential. The jury never knows about the mediation.
Advantages of Neutral Third-Party Mediation:
- High Success Rate;
- Can avoid costly litigation of trial;
- Typically, less formal and non-adversarial;
- Creative solutions can present themselves; and
- Less stressful than sitting in court
The amount of time a neutral third-party mediation takes depends upon the complexity of the issues before the parties and their willingness to work through the issues.