• September 26, 2023

Mediation Services

A mediator is a person who helps people in conflict find their own mutually acceptable solutions to their problems. A mediator can help the parties to a dispute reach an agreement that is legally binding and enforceable. A mediation is typically faster, less expensive, and less emotionally damaging than a trial. A mediated settlement also preserves important relationships that might otherwise be destroyed by years of litigation.

Disputes that can be settled by mediation include divorce, custody, support, and property division, business and commercial disputes, and other family, civil, and community issues. Mediation services are available in many states. The courthouse, local bar association, and non-profit organizations are some of the sources for finding mediators who offer their services for a fee. Some mediators are paid on a retainer basis while others charge by the hour. Before selecting a mediator, it is advisable to interview several. Consider not only their credentials and experience, but also their ability to communicate with you. The mediator will be sharing intimate details about your life and you need to feel comfortable with him or her.

Mediation is generally conducted on neutral territory, such as a conference room in a law office or a private meeting room. A typical session lasts one to four hours. A meeting of two or more persons is usually divided into segments, each focusing on a different topic. The mediator listens to each side and then offers suggestions to the parties in order to find a solution. Most mediations end with a written settlement agreement. Some may also include a summary of the meeting and the reasons for the decision, as well as any future obligations.

Some mediators are hired before the case is referred to a court. These mediators are called private or independent mediators. They may or may not be on a court roster and are not subject to the same rules as a court-referred mediator regarding mediation fees.

Most judicial districts have mediation programs that provide free or low-cost mediation and other alternative dispute resolution services. These are often run by non-profit community dispute resolution centers (CDRCs). The CDRCs serve communities in 62 New York Counties, and they settle thousands of conflicts every year.

In addition to private mediators, many governmental agencies have their own mediation programs. The police department of a city, for example, might have its own program to help people avoid unnecessary litigation by resolving disagreements. The zoning or planning board of a town or village might have its own mediation program to resolve disputes about building permits or other matters.

The benefits of mediation are significant. Unlike a court trial, a negotiated settlement is private and confidential. The settlement process can be accomplished in a few sessions within a few weeks or even months, whereas years might pass before a case reaches trial. Also, a negotiated settlement can save costs by keeping attorneys’ fees to a minimum or by eliminating the need for costly investigations.

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