What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process by which an impartial third party - a mediator - facilitates the resolution of a dispute by promoting mutual, voluntary and informed agreement. The mediator facilitates communication, promotes understanding, focuses the parties on their interests, and fosters creative problem solving.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said, "The courts should be where disputes end, after alternative methods have been explored, not where resolution of conflicts begin."
Likewise, mediation is often called "alternative dispute resolution" because the process is an alternative to going to court. However, where a court judgment is made to settle a case, mediation establishes a resolution to settle the dispute, and the resolution is created by all parties who participate in joint-decision making. Mediation can be a first option for solving a dispute when all disputing parties agree to participate. Accordingly, mediation complements the justice system by relieving court burden, making the system more efficient, and by increasing access to justice.
Mediation is private. Unless otherwise agreed by participants, only the mediator, the parties, their representatives, and/or their advocates are allowed to attend.
Mediation is informal. No record is made of the proceedings. There are no court reporters. No subpoena is allowed, and no judgment is made on the merits of the case.
Mediation is confidential to the extent provided by law.
Mediation is voluntary.