Mediation presents an opportunity for the parties to step outside the court proceedings and attempt to reach a resolution on their own. Their efforts to reach a settlement are aided by a neutral third party, known as a mediator. The mediator is usually a retired judge or senior lawyer with experience in estates law.
The role of a mediator is very different from that of a judge. The mediator does not make orders or impose a settlement on the parties. Instead, the mediator helps the parties to craft their own solution to the dispute. How the mediator helps facilitate a resolution differs depending on the individual style of the mediator, the type dispute, and the parties themselves. However, mediators often offer a frank evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of each parties’ legal positions, they act as a sounding board for different settlement ideas and grievances, and they act as a go-between for messages between the parties.
Mediation does not result in a “winner” and “loser” the same way that litigation does. Usually, the solution reached at mediation involves a concession from both sides. In order to increase the chances that the mediation will result in a settlement, the parties must be prepared to compromise, negotiate in good faith, and be willing to settle.
For the complete primer on mediation, click here.