We have grown accustomed to thinking that the only way to resolve a dispute is to go to court. We think in terms of “justice,” naïvely believing that the court system is waiting for us with open arms ready to give us what we want and expect. The reality, of course, is much different.
Here's an interesting statistic: 95% of all civil lawsuits settle before going to trial. Think about that for a minute. After spending months, possibly years, in court and after spending thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs, it is overwhelmingly likely your case will settle before a judge (or a jury) hears one word of testimony. Given this reality, wouldn't it make more sense to make every effort to reach a settlement BEFORE spending months in court and paying lawyers thousands of dollars in fees? I think so.
Fortunately, there is another approach to resolving conflict and that's called mediation. Mediation is a process whereby parties in dispute meet with a neutral professional (a trained mediator) to have an open discussion about their conflict and possible options for how the conflict can be resolved. The mediator does not decide the case nor judge the parties but rather acts as a facilitator, encouraging the parties to find common ground. It's a win/win process that seeks to address the pressing concerns of all the parties.
There are many benefits to mediation, but the more significant ones include:
- Mediation is considerably less expensive than litigation
- Mediation is private and confidential
- Mediation helps preserve meaningful familial and business relationships
- Mediation can be held at the convenience of the parties, eliminating strict time limitations imposed by the courts
- Mediation allows the parties to fully express themselves, whereas in court, testimony is limited and restricted
- The parties are free to craft a resolution that is fair and equitable to all parties, not favorable to just one party
Virtually any civil case is amenable to mediation, but mediation is especially effective in the following types of cases:
- Child custody and parenting issues
- Elder care & guardianship issues
- Family disputes in general
- Contested estates and probate cases
- Business disputes (especially small and family owned businesses)
So, if you find yourself in a dispute and are willing to make a modest investment of time and effort to resolve the conflict fairly and expeditiously, consider mediation as a valuable alternative to litigation. You may be surprised how effective (and inexpensive) the mediation process can be.
For those interested in mediation, the Conflict Resolution Center of NJ is now open and accepting new cases. The Center will focus exclusively on non-adversarial approaches to conflict resolution, principally through mediation and private arbitration. The Center is located at 3594 U.S. Highway 22 W. in Branchburg, NJ, just east of the Ryland Inn. For more information about our services please call us at (908) 691-2707 or visit us at www.crconj.com.