When people have disputes that are not being resolved, within a family or elsewhere, they may need help to reach a satisfactory solution. If they are willing to deal directly with one another they might find that mediation is an effective and less costly alternative to negotiating through lawyers or litigating in court.
For example, when a couple separates and plans to divorce, they need to create a parenting plan, work out child and perhaps spousal support and decide how to divide their assets and debts. Using a mediator to work out those details can be a quicker, less expensive way to proceed before getting independent legal advice.
Unlike the lawyer, a legal professional who argues with the judge directly in their clients favor, the mediator sits in with each member separately and together to amicably negotiate a mutually beneficial outcome.
Things Mediator Might Do That Lawyer Won’t:
- Use psychological and/or emotional approaches. By appealing to their clients on a more psychological level, the mediator can tune in to decision making that is more open-minded. (For example: Dr Phil. He would be considered a mediator using such an approach).
- Ask questions. A mediator wants you to consider the things that you may not have realized or thoroughly explored.
- Diffuse a situation before it gets bad enough that a lawyer is needed. Human beings may get confrontational in situations where their needs are not met. In these cases a mediator may work to calm down each individual.
- Remain neutral. A mediator will not argue in the favor of one client. Operating on a non-gain basis, their job is to facilitate reason in a challenging situation.
- Offer unbiased opinions, not legal orders.
- Deal with clients on a personal level. Often overlooked, such an approach will yield more trust as you know that the process of mediation is not just “all business”
- Mediators are also oftentimes much more affordable, and they will likely handle the situation they’re mediating in a way that discourages expensive legal action and encourages an amicable agreement.
Some things a mediator will NOT do that a lawyer might do are:
- Give legal orders. A mediator, unlike a lawyer or arbitrator, does not hold the authority to pass such orders.
- Give legal advice. A mediator is not there to advise on the legalities of a situation. Their job lies in the “before taking legal action” department.
- Pick sides. A mediator will not favor particular sides of an argument, but rather be as objective as possible unless asked for their opinion.
Examples When You Should Go With A Mediator
- When disputing the shared inheritances as in the case of a will.
- When dealing with family issues. For example ones involving a family member with a mental health issue and how to proceed with the care of their disability.
- Workplace disputes. Employment related issues, ones involving wages, issues between co-management styles etc.
- Credit recovery and payment plan agreements with outside organizations.
- Divorce and alimony, as stated in the aforementioned example.
- Rental, lease or subletting agreements, and many, many more.
In summary, the mediator tries to makes sure all parties are as satisfied, through being the objective, voice of reason in a situation, while the lawyer defends the interests of their own client. Now we have outlined the situational usefulness of each service so YOU can better decide when a mediator would suit YOUR interests.
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