What Is Mediation? - Resolving the Differences Standing in The Way

When neighborly disputes, divorce, or family disagreements disrupt life we get stressed out. These disagreements cloud judgment and rational thinking. Mediation brings an unbiased third party into the mix to help people communicate, understand, and reach agreement.

  • Mediation involves an unbiased “facilitator” helping involved parties reach a compromise.
  • Four types of mediation: How they create fair agreements depends on the situation.
  • Mediation vs. Court: How handling disputes out of court keeps it private.

Mediation: An Agreement in Compromise

Simply put, mediation is a confidential and completely voluntary means to problem solving that does not have to involve the court. Although some court matters do get referred to mediation, it is also an alternative to court.

Rather than a judge deciding, mediation services allow the disputing parties to work out solutions that are best for them. Self-determination and self-empowerment are chief principles of this process.

Ultimately, the agreement made comes from the participants. This can go a long way in preserving a relationship. Especially one, like neighbors, friends, or family; the people you see every day.

The ability to resolve an issue without destroying relationships is just one advantage. It can also be a quick process compared to going to court.

Lawsuits can be quite time-consuming. Hearings in court, filing complaints, motions, discovery requests, and more. Mediation services need only the schedules of all parties involved. Not the courts crowded calendar or any of those mentioned other parts of the legal process.

There are other advantages of mediation. It is a less expensive, more convenient, productive, supportive, and civil way to go than court. The process is informal too, as meetings are usually held around a table in a relaxed atmosphere.

There are some formalities to deal with, like the actual mediation session. The process has stages and structure to have success. But the process is empowering. Helping parties deal with disputes in a private and calm environment.

Not every dispute will call for the same approach. Every case has its own unique circumstances and factors.

Four Mediation Techniques Used in Maryland

There is not any type of mediation technique that is better than the other. Some attorneys or mediators have a preference of a specific technique. Others frequently use a combination during mediation sessions.

Every type of mediation calls for the attorney or mediator to remain neutral and the parties to determine the outcome. But in each type, the role of the attorney or mediator changes slightly.

Maryland’s most common practiced mediation techniques:

    1. Analytical
    2. Facilitative
    3. Inclusive
    4. Transformative

Analytical Mediation

Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of both parties positions to work towards a settlement.

A process controlled by a mediator or attorney. They suggest solutions to the conflict. Making their best efforts to get the parties to compromise to achieve a result. This technique is primarily focused on settling the conflict.

Analytical mediation is a possible solution for divorce or separation.

Sometimes one participant is more concerned over money matters. The other is mainly concerned about the children. But, both need shown the weaknesses and strengths to each case.

Facilitative Mediation

Also known as “traditional” mediation. A person “facilitates” or promotes parties to reach their own solution. This technique allows for the process to be actively controlled. Either by an attorney or mediator.

Meaning, they set the ground rules for how to solve the problem and ask questions to discover the interests and issues in the disagreement.

Their job is to “grease the wheels” and help explore win/win solutions. The “facilitator” will not offer opinions on strengths or weaknesses of the parties cases. They also do not suggest solutions.

Great option when the parties do not know how to fairly resolve the problem, as in an uncontested divorce or marital settlement agreement.

Inclusive Mediation

Based on a co-mediator model, where there are two mediators or attorneys present. Each focuses on listening to the parties involved and relaying information back to the participants.

The technique is a structured process. First, the parties involved talk and discuss what they choose.

Secondly, they develop clarity to what is meaningful to them. Thirdly, parties identify topics to resolve.

Followed by, creating goals for those topics. Then, brainstorming options to solve the topics.

Next, participants consider each option on if they meet their goals. Finally, nailing down an agreement, if any.

Handy technique to use when the participants in the dispute have a contentious relationship. Like a contested divorce or child custody.

Transformative Mediation

People tend to handle conflict differently. Some are self-absorbed and have difficulty seeing other viewpoints. Others feel weak or beaten down from the problem.

Transformative mediation aims to change that. Showing the participants how to recognize another conflict viewpoint. And, empowering them to handle the conflict.

Participants set the ground rules. Mediators or attorneys listen and intervene in the conversation. Pointing out recognition and empowerment moments.

There is no direction on what to discuss. The “moderator” assists in helping to talk about what is important to the parties. Offering no solutions or opinions on strengths or weaknesses of the cases either.

The transformative technique is best used if there is hope for an ongoing relationship. It can allow for the parties to change how they think and interact with each other. Acquiring the skills they need to make constructive change. Good option in Maryland for a limited divorce.

Although each works nicely in certain situations, it could be necessary to use a combination of techniques. Every case is different.

Staying Out of Court: When Mediation Is the Right Choice

Mediation is best used in disputes that involve family, friends, neighbors, or employees. These relationships will last beyond the mediation. And, the parties involved all know the information needed to resolve the dispute. In a neighborly sense, it is a way to “mend fences.”

A service that lends itself to more creativity as mediation is not restricted by the rules of the court. Mediation allows for flexibility in reaching your own result. A judge must rule based on written law.

Plus, court cases are public record, so everyone knows your business. A mediation is private and only involves the parties in the dispute. The terms of the solution and agreement are private too. Sometimes it is better to keep problems “in house.”

Mediating cannot solve every problem. Some issues need to go through the legal system for resolution, like a domestic violence case. One party has the information to solve the problem, but won't share it with the other. And, where the information is located plays a factor into issues being mediated, too.

When one party is unwilling to provide information, court processes like discovery are needed. These procedures are not found in mediation services.

The time for mediation depends on the circumstance of the problem. The attorneys at JC Law have years of experience to help mediate. Form family to business matters and everything in between. No matter the problem that needs resolving, our Firm has the resources to help you solve it.

Expertise gives Marylanders the best shot at a fair outcome and resolution. Contact JC Law for your free initial consultation about a matter you need mediated. Compromise works for all parties and does not favor one side over the other.

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