Mediation is a process by which two parties agree to work out their differences through confidential discussions that are facilitated by a neutral third party. If two people are willing to discuss their differences with the intent of reaching an amicable resolution, then mediation is often the best and most cost efficient means of resolving a dispute.
Mediation is different from other forms of dispute resolution in that it allows the parties to be in control of the process and the outcome. Studies show that people who structure their own agreements are far more likely to abide by them in the future. They are also more likely to reach agreements that reflect their underlying interests.
Mediation is also different from traditional forms of dispute resolution in that it focuses on the future. Parties are encouraged to imagine their lives a year from now, sometimes even ten years from now. What will they need to get there? If there are children involved, how will their needs be met? Good mediators can create an environment where parties feel safe to discuss their true interests and where they also find the strength to listen with compassion. The result is an agreement that reflects the long- term interests, rather than the immediate positions, of both parties.
Couples that are separating are often under a tremendous amount of emotional and financial stress, not including the added stress and expense associated with the traditional adversarial divorce proceedings. Fortunately, for those couples that are willing to discuss the dissolution of their marriage with the guidance of a trained facilitator, mediation is an excellent resource.