What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties without a judge or jury deciding the outcome. Typically, an impartial mediator assists the parties to negotiate a settlement. The process is private and confidential, and participation is typically voluntary unless required by a judge or by local administrative rules, like in residential foreclosure matters.
The benefits of mediation include:
While a mediator may charge a fee comparable to that of an attorney, the mediation process generally takes much less time than moving a case through standard legal channels. While a case in the hands of a lawyer or a court may take months or years to resolve, mediation usually achieves a resolution in a matter of hours. Taking less time means expending less money on hourly fees and costs.
While court hearings are public, mediation remains strictly confidential. No one but the parties to the dispute and the mediator
Mediation increases the control the parties have over the resolution. In a court case, the parties obtain a resolution, but control resides with the judge or jury. Often, a judge or jury cannot legally provide solutions that emerge in mediation. Thus, mediation is more likely to produce a result that is mutually agreeable for the parties.
Because the result is attained by the parties working together and is mutually agreeable, compliance with the mediated agreement is usually high. This further reduces costs, because the parties do not have to employ an attorney to force compliance with the agreement. The mediated agreement is, however, fully enforceable in a court of law.
Parties to a mediation are typically ready to work mutually toward a resolution. In most circumstances the mere fact that parties are willing to mediate means that they are ready to “move” their position. The parties thus are more amenable to understanding the other party’s side and work on underlying issues to the dispute. This has the added benefit of often preserving the relationship the parties had before the dispute.
Mediators are trained in working with difficult situations. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator and guides the parties through the process. The mediator helps the parties think “outside of the box” for possible solutions to the dispute, broadening the range of possible solutions.
Mediation in the residential foreclosure context is very helpful because not only can it assist parties to reach a mutually agreeable outcome (loan modification, deed in lieu of foreclosure, short sale, etc.), and stop the foreclosure process, but if a conclusion cannot be reached, at a minimum, the homeowner will have a very real opportunity to discuss directly with a bank representative all possible solutions to their mortgage crisis. The attorneys at the Arcia Law Firm have participated in hundreds of mediations with their clients and have successfully used the mediation process to obtain settlements in dozens of residential foreclosure cases.