As a mediator located in Southern Florida, I’ve been asked to explain what is mediation. Mediation is a means to avoid litigation. Litigation is expensive, time-consuming, emotionally draining and unpredictable, thus, mediation has become increasingly popular. In this article, I will explain mediation, when to consider mediation, and the types and the benefits of mediation in Florida.

What is the Difference Between Mediation and Arbitration in Florida?

Mediation and arbitration are similar in that they are alternatives to traditional litigation, and are sometimes used in concurrence with litigation, meaning opposing parties may first try to mediate, and if that fails, move forward to arbitration. Both arbitration and mediation employ a neutral third party to oversee the process, and they both can be binding.

Mediation. Mediation is an informal settlement conference, while arbitration is similar to court in that a decision is made for you by a neutral party. In mediation, the parties are encouraged to work out a resolution, thus, having total control over the resolution to their dispute. The mediator is there to guide and assist the parties in formulating this solution.

Arbitration. Arbitration is also a form of dispute resolution. Arbitration is the private, legal determination of a dispute, by an impartial third party. An arbitration hearing may involve the use of an individual arbitrator or a tribunal. A tribunal may consist of any number of arbitrators though some legal systems insist on an odd number for obvious reasons of wishing to avoid a tie (one or three arbitrators is usually the norm). The disputing parties surrender their power to resolve the dispute to the arbitrator(s). Arbitration is also an alternative to litigation and is just as final and binding.

Why Should I Mediate in Florida?

Mediation is valuable when your dispute involves another person with whom you would like to remain on good terms. Family members, co-workers, business partners, landlord, neighbors, or others you would like to have a continuing personal or business relationship. Lawsuits divide and ultimately ruin relationships. The benefit of mediation is its ability to resolve disputes without ending the relationship.

What are the Benefits of Mediation in Florida?

If at all possible, mediate before you arbitrate. There are several benefits associated with mediation, including:

Flexibility. Mediation can be used to discuss creative and tailored solutions. In mediation, any issue the parties bring can be deliberated. The cause of the conflict can be identified and resolved, especially in cases of erroneous or inadequate information, differing goals and/or methods for resolving the disagreement.

Speed. Mediation typically takes days or weeks, unless the case is complex, whereas lawsuits typically take months or years. When parties want a relatively quick resolution, mediation allows a more reasonable timeframe for resolving the dispute.

Control. In the mediation process, the people involved in the process are the ones who create an agreement that works for them. In arbitration or in court, an agreement is imposed by an arbitrator or judge. Parties generally report a better outcome as a result of mediation than they do from a lawsuit. Also, because there is no winner or loser, no admission of fault or guilt, and the settlement is mutually agreed upon, parties are typically more satisfied with mediation.

Cost. Mediation is considerably less expensive than a typical lawsuit. Mediators charge much less than a lawyer, and with a quicker turnaround. You will pay less money over a shorter period.

Informal. The informality of mediation allows the parties to be more engaged than they would be in a court-driven designed to separate the parties. The mediator works directly with the parties and can focus their needs and interests rather than on their stated positions.

Confidential. Unlike court cases, which are public, mediation is typically confidential, which means there are no records or transcripts and any evidence introduced during mediation cannot be used later or revealed.
Greater compliance: Because mediation produces better results quicker and cheaper, compliance with mediated resolutions is generally higher than with lawsuits.

What are the Three Basic Styles of Mediation in Florida?

Facilitative. In facilitative mediation, the mediator creates a process to assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution. The mediator asks questions, validates and normalizes points of view, and assists the parties in finding and options for resolution. The facilitative mediator does not make recommendations to the parties, gives advice, or opinion as to the outcome of the case, or what might have happened if the case went to court. The mediator oversees the process and the parties are in charge of the results.

Evaluative. Evaluative mediation is a process where settlement is overseen by a judge. An evaluative mediator helps the parties reach a resolution by pointing out the weaknesses of their cases, and predicting what a judge or jury would be likely to do should the case be litigated. Attorneys typically work with the court to choose the mediator and participate in the mediation. The parties are most often present in the mediation, but the mediator may meet with the attorneys alone as well as with the parties and attorneys. The assumption in evaluative mediation that the mediator has the expertise or legal expertise in the area of the dispute.

Transformative. Transformative mediation offers much deeper changes in people and their interpersonal relationships, beyond just remedying the dispute. They proposed a way of practicing mediation that seeks to address deeper levels of social life. Transformative mediation possesses the power to change how people behave not only toward their opponent in a dispute, but also in their daily lives. Mediation can transform individuals. For mediators who follow to the framework of transformative mediation, achieving this type of change is more important than solving a specific problem between parties.

Mediation has the potential of save a business relationship as well as friendship. By coming to a mutual agreement and understanding, the issues can be resolved in a timely manner, without the cost associated with litigation. If you need a mediator in Southern Florida to help you settle a legal dispute, contact Carlton Mediation.