The greatest benefit for individuals to resolve their case in mediation is that it is significantly less costly than going to court. When the court is utilized there is a great unknown as to how long it will take to develop the issues to litigate, prepare for defense and go to trial. This means the parties will likely not have a sense of how long this time-consuming process will be, and therefore not know how substantial the total legal fees will be until they have already incurred them. Alternatively, in mediation the parties leave their first meeting with a predictable estimate of how many hours it will take to resolve the issues and the cost to get there. Since the goal of mediation is to end the conflict as quickly as possible, costs are inevitably lower.
The second big benefit to mediation is that the parties can be creative and fashion solutions that are unique to their situation. During the mediation session, the mediator will brainstorm with the parties to come up with solutions that make sense for their particular situation. There is no need to follow the outcomes of prior cases. The final agreement can be virtually anything the parties involved agree to, provided it is not in violation of the law.
The mediation takes place in a conference room where the parties and the mediator are seated around a table to discuss the issues of the dispute in a non-threatening, non-intimidating setting. The parties raise the issues and with the mediator’s help they discuss solutions and settlement options that are acceptable to both sides. There is no formal courtroom etiquette and no use of technical rules of evidence.
The reality of litigation is that both sides are in attack and defense mode. Alternatively, in mediation, the parties are in conciliatory and peace-making mode. The objective in mediation is to explain your position and perspective and generate solutions to resolve the conflict in an amicable manner which ultimately benefits all parties.
The Parties Maintain Control
When a conflict or a dispute arises, it will get resolved one way or another. It could be resolved by a judge in a final judgment or in mediation with a settlement agreement that is agreeable to all the participants. In mediation each person has complete decision-making power and must agree to every provision of the mediated agreement. No decision may be imposed on any party. Studies show that when people agree to terms voluntarily they are more likely to comply with those terms and less likely to end up back in court fighting over a violation or a misinterpretation.
All communications made during the mediation session are confidential, except those provided as exceptions pursuant to Fla. Stat. 44.405. The confidentiality provision encourages and facilitates the parties to reach an agreement. It allows the parties to speak openly and directly to each other and to the issues without fear that what they say will be used against them.
Mediation is a private process. Participants have an opportunity to vent their anger and deal with long-standing hostilities in a private setting. This private setting allows individuals to voice their issues and concerns without fear that these will be out in the public arena. Often the participants need to be heard before a settlement can be reached. Litigation, conversely, plays out in the courtroom and generates many public documents which are accessible to the public domain.
All decision-making authority rests with the parties, including the decision to leave the mediation at any time. There are substantial benefits to resolving the issues in a mediation setting; however, unlike the court venue, the parties are not forced to be there. At any time, should the parties not resolve the issues, they are free to pursue all their remedies through the court system.
Children’s Best Interest
Contentious litigation often creates deep scars that are difficult to heal. By deciding to handle your divorce in a non-contentious manner, you are not allowing hurtful and harmful things to be said that will be impossible to take back and you lay the groundwork for going forward in a positive manner. If you have children, avoiding the anger and emotional damage caused by litigation will create a positive foundation for you and your spouse to work together effectively as parents after the divorce.