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Why Mediate? The Benefits of Mediation

Mediation is a compelling choice for divorce, family, and small business disputes. Here’s why. You’ll gain guidance and empowerment without losing control.

  • Parties in mediation gain guidance to make informed choices and empowerment to create equitable agreements. But you remain in control of the issues. Litigation, in contrast, places control in the hands of judges and attorneys. This makes the outcome highly unpredictable. In an age when people feel less control over their lives, mediation allows you to assert yourself as the principal decision maker in an important aspect of your life.
  • Mediation works — and parties stand by their agreements.
    • Studies show that more than the overwhelming majority of mediation cases end in a settlement. Moreover, parties are more likely to stand by the terms of a mediated settlement than a litigated outcome. Why such high compliance? Research suggests that people feel much less resentment towards a settlement when they’ve participated in shaping its terms.
  • You’ll save money — a lot of money!
    • Mediation is a lot cheaper than litigation. For example, a fully litigated divorce can easily cost $40,000 per spouse, and the average divorce (litigated and non-litigated) costs $20,000 per spouse. Much of these expenses are attorneys’ costs for discovery, research, depositions, interrogatories, motions, conferences, witness preparation, trials, subpoenas, appeals, and time waiting outside courtrooms — expenses that are likely to be negligible or non-existent for a dispute settled in mediation.
    • Parties in mediation may each consult independent attorneys to provide legal advice as necessary. Their attorneys may also review any proposed agree- ment before the parties sign it. However, mediation typically entails much less attorney time — and hence much lower total fees — than when spouses litigate their dispute. Further reducing the costs of mediation, the mediator’s hourly rate is shared by the parties.
    • The enormous cost of litigation poses a serious threat to most parties in disputes. A litigated settlement may leave you financially as well as emotionally depleted after payment of attorney fees.
    • Furthermore, when parties pursue litigation, 90% of cases end in a negotiated settlement, often just days or hours before the case is scheduled for trial. This decision to settle pre-trial usually coincides with the parties’ realization that they would have saved tens of thousands of dollars if they’d instead settled much earlier through mediation.

Mediation is a risk-free first resort that doesn’t preclude the option of litigation.

  • Chances are that mediation will keep you out of court. However, if you’re in the minority that isn’t able to reach agreement in mediation, you’re always free to stop mediation and pursue a settlement through litigation instead. Mediation doesn’t diminish any of your rights. It doesn’t preclude litigation. It’s a first resort, a provisional alternative to litigation. You have much more to lose by declining mediation than by trying to first reach a mediated settlement.
  • Even if you can’t agree on every issue in your dispute, you’ll probably agree on many. And each issue that you resolve in mediation will save you money. Furthermore, you can schedule a mediation session at any time to revisit an issue of disagreement — for example, in light of new information, new ideas, or a fresh perspective from the passage of time.

In divorce and custody cases, you’ll protect your children from the often-traumatic impact of litigation between parents.

  • Children are always the most severely wounded casualties in an adversarial divorce or separation. Often caught in the crossfire and used as pawns, they can suffer untold psychological damage from the ensuing battle between their parents. Compounding this tragedy is the fact that litigation rarely yields an advantage to either party because many of the most contentious issues such as child support and division of property are ultimately settled in litigation according to predetermined formulas.
  • Experience shows that children can be spared much anxiety and depression when their parents choose mediation over litigation. No longer constantly arguing or speaking destructively of one another, mom and dad are now engaged in a process that models constructive problem solving. Indeed, your decision to choose mediation can teach your children a valuable lesson in conflict resolution from which they may later benefit in their own relationships.
  • Mediation provides a private space to create a private settlement.
    • In a litigated case, court documents such as complaints, answers, motions, and exhibits of financial information are often public documents, available for inspection by anyone via hardcopy files or online databases. Settlement via mediation helps keep personal information private.

Mediated settlements are legally binding.

  • One of mediation’s great strengths is the voluntary participation of parties. Parties will only reach a settlement if they are satisfied with its terms. As an added safeguard, parties may review any proposed settlement with their respective attorneys. Once the parties are ready to sign a mediated settlement, the settlement can be legally binding. For example, the mediated settlement of a divorcing couple would be filed with the court as a Marital Settlement Agree¬ment (also known as a Property Settlement Agreement or Marital Dissolution Agreement), which would become legally binding once approved by the court.

You won’t destroy your relationship — and you’ll be glad you didn’t.

  • When a party pursues litigation, the other party perceives the suit as a hostile act and responds in kind. That’s how litigation works. For multi-million dollar corporate disputes, the parties need not concern themselves with their counterpart’s sensibilities. Indeed, corporate entities may consider the courtroom as just another forum for the conduct of business, an extension of the marketplace.
  • In divorce, family, and small business disputes, however, the parties’ sensibilities matter greatly. That’s because these interpersonal conflicts involve relationships that generally persist long after the parties have reached a settlement.
  • Mediation won’t deplete you emotionally.
    • No one enjoys conflict. Debilitating at its worst, it can exact an unbearable mental toll as people adopt combative postures that distract them from their jobs, their health, their friends, and members of their family.
    • Mediation won’t dispel the anger, loss, hurt, frustration, or sadness you may feel. But it will transform your relationship to the conflict by engaging you in a constructive conflict resolution process. Most importantly, mediation will leave you sufficiently intact to move forward once a settlement is agreed. No wonder parties report considerably greater levels of satisfaction when they choose mediation over litigation.*

Speed: More efficient than litigation, mediation proceeds at your own pace.

  • Mediation is efficient as well as effective. Approaching a dispute as a problem rather than a contest, it directs energy into attacking the problem rather than each other. Indeed, parties who choose mediation typically resolve their dispute in substantially less time than those who resort to litigation.

Convenience: Schedule mediation sessions to suit your lifestyle.

  • Unlike the court system — a bureaucratic process that makes little concession to the convenience of its clients — New Resolution’s network of independent mediators are client friendly. We understand that you have other personal and professional commitments and will work with you to set up convenient appointments.

Recognition and dignity: Invaluable qualities you’ll surrender in litigation.

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