Television shows are filled with dramatic scenes of one person telling the other, “I’ll see you in court!” The following few scenes are tense-filled courtroom scenes with much shouting and yelling.
In contrast to what Hollywood would like us to believe, the courtroom is not the best place to settle your differences, and there are much better alternative dispute resolution options.
Mediation versus court
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) where a neutral third party, aka a mediator, helps both sides reach an agreement. The mediator facilitates communication and promotes understanding so that both parties can work on identifying their needs and possible solutions to meet them.
A significant advantage of mediation over litigation is time and money. While costs associated with a lawsuit can quickly mount, mediation is typically less expensive. In addition, scheduling sessions is left to the parties and not at the mercy of the court’s schedule. Parties can often reach a solution after just a few meetings.
If a person chooses litigation, they leave the decision to a judge or jury. Mediation gives the parties control. They work together to reach a resolution that meets their needs. They also have the leeway to consider more creative solutions than would be available in court.
Litigation is adversarial by nature, which can further strain relationships. Mediation allows for collaboration, communication and understanding. It’s a process that can help preserve relationships. Mediation is also confidential, compared to court proceedings, which are public records that anyone can access.
Choosing between mediation and litigation depends on a person’s unique situation. Some cases require a court’s intervention. However, many civil disputes can be settled with mediation if both parties are willing to work together and compromise.