Mediation refers to a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in which the parties to a lawsuit meet, often informally, with a neutral third-party in an effort to settle the case. The third-party is called a mediator. It is this person’s job to listen to both sides of the story and help the parties come to understand each other’s viewpoint regarding the controversy. The mediator then facilitates the negotiation leading, in hopes, to a voluntary resolution to the case. Both parties can attend mediation with or without an attorney present.
The purpose of mediation is to avoid the time and expense of further litigation by settling a lawsuit early on in the process.
If the parties reach an agreement during mediation, both have the ability to enter into a binding agreement after consultation with their attorneys – however, this must only be the decision of the parties as the mediator cannot, herself, bind the parties to an agreement. When mediation is successful, it can save the parties a substantial amount of money, as the process of litigation is expensive.
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