Mediation has several important advantages over other forms of dispute resolution.  Mediation empowers the participants to control the outcome of their dispute, rather than having an outcome imposed upon them by a jury, judge, arbitrator, or other third party who is not personally invested in the dispute.  Mediation is invariably less expensive and less time consuming than litigation or arbitration.  Because mediation is completely confidential, it allows the parties to preserve their reputations and to protect sensitive facts from public disclosure.  Mediation typically occurs in a private office/conference room, instead of a courtroom, so the parties can address their differences in a comfortable, less formal environment.  Mediation offers greater flexibility in scheduling than litigation or arbitration proceedings.There are different methods of mediation.  The type of dispute, and the relationship (or lack thereof) of the parties to the dispute, will often dictate the particular method selected by the mediator.  A dispute between a divorcing husband and wife is materially different than a dispute between two strangers who may have been involved in an automobile collision.

In the first example, a dispute about the custody of the couple’s children will require a plan/agreement that allows them to create a new relationship going forward as parents.  Thus, the mediator may decide to focus the parties on that future relationship.  In the second example, the parties may not be concerned about any future relationship and, thus, the mediator may simply focus on resolving the immediate dispute (repairing the automobile, covering medical bills, etc.) and allowing the parties to put their differences behind them.

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