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Mediation: What is it?

In Florida, all civil cases are required to go to mediation prior to trial.  But what exactly is mediation?

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution (sometimes called “ADR”) that is essentially a formal settlement negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party known as a mediator.  Mediation is neither a trial nor an arbitration.  In a trial, the parties present evidence and argument to a judge or jury who decides the outcome of the dispute.  Likewise, in an arbitration, the parties present evidence and arguments to an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators who decides the outcome of a dispute.  In a mediation, the mediator assists the parties as they talk about their dispute to help them find and explore mutually acceptable resolutions of their dispute.  If the parties reach an agreement at mediation, they do not have to go to trial or arbitration.

While the goal of mediation is to try to work something out, parties sometimes decide it would be better not to come to an agreement.  Sometimes emotions may be driving the dispute which can make talking to the opposing party difficult.  A mediator can assist the parties in easing the way for communication.  The mediator is there as a neutral person to help the parties focus on solving the dispute.  Even if the parties have already tried to talk it out or negotiate, a mediator can help the parties listen to each other and stay focused.  A mediator is there to help both sides communicate and explore possible solutions.  If the parties get stuck, the mediator can sometimes help restart the conversation in a new way and help everyone take another step forward.

Mediation provides parties with an opportunity to be creative with possible solutions.  If both sides agree, the parties can enter into a settlement agreement specific to their individual needs.  Mediation agreements are binding on the parties, and they are enforceable by the court.

If you have a legal claim or question and would like to explore mediation for a possible resolution, contact Baggett Law for a free consultation.  904-396-1100

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