What are the benefits of mediation?

What is mediation?

Mediation is the process of using an independent third party to help settle a dispute between two or more people. Often, people turn to mediation for help with difficult matters such as divorce, separation, parental agreements, or even disputes in the workplace. The mediator helps those in dispute to identify the issues, clarify the areas of disagreement and explore options for a consensus so that the participants can find their own solution, draw a line under the dispute and move on with their lives.

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Mediation First offers the following mediation services:

Mediation vs litigation

Mediation provides an alternative route to litigation and court cases. Comparing the two routes is where the advantages of the mediation route become apparent. Litigation, or the adversarial legal process, is conflict driven by its very nature. In a legal battle, it can feel much more difficult to engage in an open dialogue with the other party.

Solicitors represent the interests of just their own client and may pursue legal strategies that antagonise the dispute. Additionally, this route involves a lengthy and expensive exchange of communication between the solicitors, before incurring additional legal fees if one or other party decides they need to start court proceedings. Court cases can drag out over many months (and sometimes well in excess of a year), which not only makes things more expensive, but can also worsen the relationship between the parties as time goes on. This can be extremely damaging if the disputing parties are neighbours, members of the same family or have a business relationship. It’s important not to underestimate the mental toll this can take, and the impact that an ongoing legal battle can have on not just the disputants themselves, but all those close to them.

Mediation on the other hand is a much speedier process. It attempts to resolve disputes in a more balanced way than litigation. Mediation approaches the dispute as a problem to be solved rather than as a battle to be won by one side or the other. All the research indicates that long-term legal arguments cause real damage to individuals and families, especially when children are involved. This is why more and more people are opting for mediation – a much simpler and less destructive route.

Mediation is collaborative rather than adversarial. Unlike lawyers, mediators work with both parties to the dispute, not just one side or another. Mediators are experts at helping you work together to reach a fair solution, not just arguing a particular point of view – so you make progress much more quickly and at much lower cost than through the traditional solicitor and court route. Taking a resolution focused approach as opposed to the adversarial legal route could save you a lot of mental emotional energy, money, and time.

Take a closer look at the specific benefits of mediation to see how it could help you reach an agreement in your dispute.

What are the advantages of mediation?

Lower costs

Mediation is a much less expensive way to resolve disputes. With mediation, you only pay for the sessions that you have, and any court orders you wish to file for as a result. With the average length of mediation taking one to three months, as opposed to the six to twelve-month average for court cases, it's not difficult to see how you save money by mediating rather than litigating. In comparison to solicitor fees, mediation is almost always the more cost-effective way to settle disputes, often literally saving you thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds.

In some cases, family mediation can even be free with the help of legal aid. For more information about pricing and legal aid, read our related blog that covers everything you need to know about the costs of mediation.

A fairer and more dignified process

Taking a dispute to court can turn into a war of words. In contrast, mediation has at its heart the idea that communication is better than confrontation.

When couples separate, it is natural to feel hurt and want to defend yourself, as well as wishing to blame the other person. But, when all is said and done, the majority of couples don’t want to end their relationship in a way that spoils all the good memories and times that they have shared over the years. They more frequently want to sort the practical aspects of the separation in a way that respects what they have built up together. They - more often than not - want to have an ending that is dignified and fair to both of them.

Professional mediators don’t take sides or tell you what to do. Mediators are experienced facilitators who are experts at getting communication back on track, so you can sort out your dispute fairly and respectfully. They will help you gather all the relevant information and then identify and discuss the available options in an open and co-operative way – so maximising the chances of a fair and long-lasting solution.

If this sounds like something that would benefit your situation, consider how family mediation could help you move forward in life.

Ensuring both sides of the argument are heard

Mediators ensure that both sides of the story are heard. They will ensure that the points you wish to make are listened to, as it’s impossible to reach a mediated agreement unless both participants feel that their voices have been heard and considered. This can help improve communication generally between the participants, which will obviously be of help in the future where parents need to be in regular contact about arrangements for children.

Conversely, a court case has the potential to lengthen and deepen the conflict even more, and, in contrast to mediation, the way communication is conducted between solicitors actually restricts open communication between parties.

Minimising conflict is one of the key benefits of mediation. Why waste valuable energy on unnecessary arguments, when a mediator can help you reach a cooperative agreement? That way, you can use any energy conserved towards a more positive area of your life.

Quicker than going through the courts

The length of mediation depends on the type of mediation and the complexity of the case. Some workplace and civil mediations may only need a single day to find a solution. Meanwhile, a more complicated mediation between a separating family, who have children and property together, is likely to take a number of shorter sessions over a few weeks.

Nonetheless, mediation has time and time again proven to be quicker than going to court.

Let’s look at divorce mediation for example. Although every case is different, on average getting a divorce and attending mediation to sort out a financial settlement and arrangements for any children can take as little as 6 months to finalise. But if you choose to go down the route of solicitor involvement and a lengthy court battle, you’ll be looking at a much longer process of a year or more.

On average, you’ll need around three or four mediation meetings to reach a final outcome. Some disputes with narrower issues may need only one or two sessions. Compared to the back and forth of court hearings and solicitor communications, mediation is much more time effective.

Greater control for participants

Participants in mediation retain more control over the process and outcome of their sessions than parties involved in litigation. In a court case, participants may be represented by legal advisors, and the verdict is delivered by the judge on hearing arguments from both sides, and then ruling in the favour of either party on each matter. Participants are given dates by the court by which they have to do certain tasks - such as provide financial information and documents. The process goes at the pace dictated by the court, not by the participants.

By comparison, the participants “own” the mediation process. This includes the planning and decision-making process. Mediation also offers greater control over the dates of sessions so they don’t clash with holidays or busy times at work.

More support for participants

Mediators can offer participants different types of support throughout the mediation process. The MIAM allows both parties to speak to the mediator one-on-one prior to the first mediation session and tell their side of the story in a completely confidential setting. It also gives the mediator a chance to understand both perspectives in order to provide the support necessary throughout the process.

Mediation First are also able to implement support measures for any specific needs that clients have. For example, we offer a national mediation service with online mediation. We can offer different models of mediation. For example, where appropriate, the mediation can be conducted in such a way that the participants don’t meet but are in separate rooms and the mediator “shuttles” between them. Or, participants can be accompanied by their solicitors so they have legal advice “on tap”.

Additionally, we can make accessibility provisions for any participants with disabilities, learning difficulties, language barriers, or sensory needs. Be sure to tell us about any accessibility requirements ahead of your first session, so we can implement a suitable plan.

Improved convenience

People going through the litigation process typically have to work around court availability. This of course comes after the lengthy process of solicitors' letters going back and forth and numerous meetings between client and solicitor.

Here lies another benefit of mediation. Our mediators will be transparent about their availability from the start, making it easy for you to plan ahead. They also make every effort to find a schedule that works for participants, providing more flexibility and convenience than the courts can offer.

Did you know that Mediation First offer online mediation sessions? This makes it easier than ever to work your meetings around your daily schedule, with no need for lengthy journeys to another location.

Joining your session from home also makes it easier to be in a separate room to your mediation partner – if that is something you would like to arrange. Simply log in from your computer at home, and begin your session from the comfort of your own home.

Find out more about the many benefits of online mediation.

Mediation agreements are flexible

Many people prefer the nature of mediation due to the custom-made mutual agreements that can be achieved through direct negotiation assisted by a trained professional mediator. The powers of the court are substantial but they are quite limited and restricted. Agreements reached through mediation can be as flexible as one needs, taking into account the specific needs of each person involved in the dispute. Mediators are professionally trained to create bespoke agreements that will provide actionable solutions for everyone involved but at the same time ensuring that everyone leaves the process feeling like they have been heard and listened to. This is an unlikely outcome with the adversarial legal route, as it’s more likely for one person to lose out as a consequence of the court judgement.

If you do decide to make a mediation agreement legally binding, this is a possibility.

Is mediation the right choice for me?

Mediation is a great choice for many people, and helps thousands of people every year to resolve their disputes. All the benefits of mediation can be applied to the following scenarios:

  • Family Separation: Separation is painful for any couple or family. A mediator can help you navigate this difficult time, so you can work out mutually acceptable solutions with the assistance of a professional, clear-headed and impartial accredited expert. Our family mediators are on hand to help you negotiate child arrangements, maintenance payments, and any other issues you need support with.
  • Divorce: Court cases for divorce proceedings are notoriously stressful and difficult. Sometimes divorcing couples turn to mediation midway through proceedings when they have reached an impasse. Or, mediation can be used right from the start instead of arguing your case in court. If you think some guided divorce mediation would help you to reach an agreement with your former partner – contact us today to find out how it can contribute to your proceedings.
  • Workplace disputes: A workplace dispute can at best contribute to an unpleasant work environment, and at worst put someone’s job, safety, or wellbeing at risk and damage the business’s productivity. Turn to workplace mediation to get working life back on track for everyone.
  • Other civil or commercial disputes: If you have an unresolved conflict with any other business or party – and would like to avoid legal proceedings,civil mediation is a great solution in these scenarios, too.

Speak to a mediator

If you would like to discuss your mediation options with someone from the Mediation First team, contact us via our online form. You can also call us on 0330 320 7600, or email at office@mediationfirst.co.uk.