When Should You Seek Legal Mediation?

Post by: Eric Jones | Posted Date: April 13th, 2015 |

If you’ve seen the film Wedding Crashers, you already have some idea of what legal mediation is. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn’s characters are legal mediators. The process of mediation is shown in the very first scene where the two are mediating a divorce. They are basically divvying up the assets of the couple who are clearly going through a messy divorce. If you have not seen this film, that is exactly what legal mediation entails, a neutral party who goes over each person’s claims in a dispute and decides the fate (King Solomon from the Bible is another example of a legal mediator – the story of the two mothers and his solution to cut the baby in half is an example of mediation). However, both parties still must agree to the terms, so you have nothing to lose if you seek out a legal mediator. As with the divorcing parties in Wedding Crashers, you can consult a lawyer and have one present prior to and during mediation.

What is said in mediation is completely confidential. It is also voluntary and usually more cost-effective than pursuing your case in civil court. Another analogy, just to make it clear: mediation is essentially what “court room” reality TV shows, such as Judge Judy, encompass. Although they are dramatized and not exactly like mediation, they are very similar. One main difference, besides the façade of a court room, is that you are not bound to the terms the mediator concludes. Often “Judy” finds for one party or another; a mediator will try his/her best to create a reasonable outcome to which both parties can agree. This is also a difference between mediation and an actual lawsuit, where either a judge or a jury decides a verdict which may not benefit both parties.

While legal mediation is usually voluntary, there are exceptions. In some states, counties, cities, or municipalities, particularly regarding family law, a judge will send the parties to mandatory mediation, to work out their issues.

In order to reap the benefits of a successful mediation, you must prepare for it. This is when having separate legal counsel is effective, because they can help you know your rights. You must participate in the mediation, if you “hold your peace” out of some misconstrued sense of privacy or loyalty, it could result in a devastating outcome to which you might not agree. In that case, you will have wasted everyone’s time, including yours and your lawyer’s (and the fees you may have paid). Try not to forget – everything said in mediation is confidential (unless otherwise stated), so you have nothing to lose by dusting off those skeletons in your foe’s closet and putting them on display. Do so in a respectful manner, however, as mediation is intended to be civil.

So when is mediation appropriate? Mediation is appropriate more often than one might consider. Consumer complaints, tenant/landlord disputes, personal injury, employment law, family law, and collections are just a few examples of when mediation could be useful. Unfortunately, in cases of domestic violence, or facing a particularly stubborn adversary, mediation may not be the best course to seek a mutually beneficial conclusion.

If you believe you could benefit from legal mediation, Jones Law Group is here to help. Assisting you in gaining the best, most fair outcome of mediation is our goal. Our physical location is 513 East Rich Street, Columbus, OH 43215. You can also reach us by phone at (614) 545-9998. If you are considering mediation, please contact us so we can help you get what you deserve, whatever the case may be.

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