In my blog post, The Conflict Doctor is In, I noted that avoidance is a common default approach for people in dispute.  I also noted that avoiding conflict often allows disputes to grow out of control so that something that begins as a simple misunderstanding becomes a raging war.  Avoidance may be a default approach to dealing with conflict but it is not the only approach.  (Click on the title for more) . . .

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By the time most people who are fighting reach the point of filing a lawsuit, the underlying dispute has festered for some time.  During that time, the insult of the initial offense or harm is compounded by additional harm: passive aggression, overt snubs, sneaky sabotage, damaged reputations, lost productivity, even physical illness.

Despite the emotional and material harms that often arise from a dispute, most people would rather not even acknowledge the dispute at all!  Early on, it seems easier to just ignore the situation, to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist even when it involves harmful behavior and negative consequences for everyone involved.  Like a young child who believes that if he covers his eyes, everyone else disappears, most people turn a blind eye to the issues, hoping that the dispute will go away by itself.

(Click on the title for more)  . . .

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Why put your well-being and best-interests into other people’s hands?  Why wait years for your disputes to be settled when they could be resolved in months, weeks or even hours?  Why resolve your private affairs in public, or spend a fortune gambling on who has the best lawyer?  Why make your only options win or lose?

Compared to litigation, mediation gives you the advantages of:

Privacy,  Options, Speed and Cost Control.

Privacy

Most people who decide to file a lawsuit usually don’t consider that, with very few exceptions, what you file in court is a matter of public record.  Witness the access that gossip sites have to the details of celebrities’ court proceedings.  Even the trial itself is generally open to public view.  In the past getting legal records meant a trip to the courthouse and hours sifting through files.  Today, a simple computer search can grant access to everything.

Mediation is private.  It is confidential.  Many states have laws that protect what is said in mediation from being used in court should the parties decide that a lawsuit really does better meet their needs.

Options

In litigation there is only one possible outcome: someone will win and someone will lose.  In mediation, everyone can win.  You might have no interest in whether the other party wins.  You might desperately want the other party to lose.  But consider this.  Nothing is certain in court.

Why put your fate in other people’s hands? The only slam dunk case is the case that you decide yourself.  In mediation, you and your counterpart are the judge.  A mediator facilitates a negotiation where the options for solutions are limited only by the parties’ imaginations (so long as the options are not illegal) and the parties control the outcome.  It is true that the parties might ultimately decide that they really do need a third party to declare a winner.  But this is rarely the case.

Cost Control

Time and again, a case is won or lost, not on the merits of the case, but on the skills and resources of the attorneys. That is why those who have the money to hire high priced attorneys seem to win more often.  If you only need two hours to resolve an issue that might bounce around in court for more than a year, of course you are going to save money.  You will save a ton of money.  The average contested divorce costs $40,000.00 to $180,000.00.  The average mediated divorce costs $4000.00 to $6,000.00.  There is no mystery here.

You will also save the costs of time and worry.  When you partner with the other party to draft the agreement that resolves the dispute, you are both more likely to abide by it, avoiding the costs of further litigation.   Additionally, there is no unfavorable decision to appeal, which means avoiding another potential expense.  Instead, if the situation changes  so that the agreement needs modifying, it is easy to contact the mediator to update the agreement.   Imagine, more money in your bank account and less worry on your shoulders.

Speed:

In my experience, disputes involving two parties with up to three issues can be resolved in two hours or less.  That is all.  When the people who must actually live with solution are put in charge of their own outcomes, getting to the bottom of things really is that fast.  Then you can get back to living your life.

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