Mediation is an alternative form of dispute resolution that generally does not involve the courts. A form of collaborative law that cuts down on the confrontation and stress, it is known to lessen the impact divorce, custody issues or other family law matters have on the family. It also is less expensive and more private than litigation in court.
What many people are less aware of is that there is more than one form of mediation. The circumstances of each case is unique but these different mediation formats each have their own strengths that can offer the best chance to equitably resolve a dispute.
Choosing the best type for you
The Harvard Law School lists types of mediation that are most mostly commonly used:
- Facilitative mediation: The conventional form of mediation, this format uses a neutral third party mediator who attempts to help the parties find common ground to build an equitable agreement.
- Transformative mediation: A variation of facilitative mediation, this approach empowers the couple to create a dialogue for resolving issues regarding the divorce as well as handle future issues as they co-parent.
- Evaluative mediation: Mediators in this format act more like judges, often focusing on how the law applies to areas in dispute. The mediator will often offer opinion and make recommendations.
- Court-mandated mediation: Mediation is typically voluntary, but a judge may order mediation to resolve certain areas of the divorce. With fewer issues to resolve, the case is litigated more quickly and efficiently.
- Mediation-Arbitration: This combination starts with agreeing in writing to the format and that the outcome is binding. The process then begins with mediation. If there is an impasse, the parties switch to arbitration (with the same mediator or a qualified arbitrator) to reach a binding agreement.
- Arbitration-Mediation: This process begins with an arbitrator hearing evidence, writing an award and sealing the decision. The process then moves to mediation to encourage the parties to resolve the matter. If there is an impasse, the decision is then unsealed.
- E-mediation: While mediation often takes place with both sides at the table, sometimes the two parties do not live in the same area or find negotiations more constructive if they are not in the same room.
See if mediation is right for you
The merits of each can be discussed when sitting down with a mediator during an initial consultation or later in the legal process. They can then help clients pick an approach that suits their needs.