Mediation cases are a private and informal way of settling a dispute without relying on a legal judgment issued by a judge or jury. The parties involved in mediation meet with a neutral third party to reach a mutually agreeable solution that will end a conflict. Parties are not forced to agree to a solution in mediation. Rather, the mediator facilitates communication to help the parties reach a mutual agreement. Most of the time, lawyers are not involved in mediation and the parties in dispute typically represent themselves in the mediation process.
This article provides an overview of the types of cases that typically may be mediated. See FindLaw's Mediation section for additional information.
Mediation is available in most non-criminal matters. However, some non-violent criminal cases, like those involving verbal harassment, often result in a successful resolution during mediation. Claims that do not involve a legal issue are also good candidates for mediation. For example, a dispute with a neighbor over an encroaching bush or the brightness of their outdoor lights is hardly the type of claim that merits a lawsuit. In this type of situation, it may be wise to seek mediation to end the conflict.
Mediation cases often involve conflict arising in divorce and child custody issues and in disputes between family members, neighbors, business partners, landlords and tenants, and labor unions and management. In some jurisdictions, mediation is mandatory when it involves child custody issues and disagreements with neighbors.
In some situations, mediation may be preferable to filing a lawsuit. Mediation provides the following advantages:
In most mediation cases, the following occurs: