Mediation is a voluntary, more cooperative and less adversarial, alternative to dispute resolution than having a judge or jury decide the outcome of a dispute. When successful, it results in a final settlement. It saves time and expense that would otherwise be expected in court litigation and can eliminate the need for parties to ever go to court.
Mediation is a structured, interactive process that involves an impartial and neutral third party (a mediator) who works with the parties to help them resolve their conflicts through the use of a wide variety of specialized communication and negotiation techniques. The mediator uses various strategies to manage the interactions and communications, which guide and facilitate the process in a constructive and positive direction to help parties identify and formulate their optimal solution. All parties in mediation are active participants in the process, which focuses primarily upon the needs, rights, and interests of the parties.
Mediation is also evaluative, in that the mediator analyzes issues and can provide neutral information to both parties about relevant laws, concerns, and other helpful considerations. The mediator will often will do "reality-testing" with the parties to guide them towards realistic and feasible solutions without giving advice. Mediators are not permitted to give either party legal advice, as they must remain neutral, and they can never represent either party against the other in court after serving as the parties’ mediator.
A mediator for parties also cannot be called as a witness in any subsequent court proceedings between those parties or reveal any information communicated during the mediation process. The parties are also prohibited from using any information learned during the mediation process in any later court proceedings. The mediation process is entirely private and totally confidential unless the parties reach a written settlement agreement they wish to enforce. Mediation can be used to resolve disputes of any magnitude.
Over the course of her more than 34 years of experience in practice, Ms. Margolis has seen the toll litigation takes on the parties, their children and families, often ending with an outcome that could have been achieved far more quickly and at a fraction of the emotional and financial cost through mediation. For those wishing, or willing, to find solutions to conflict and avoid the stress, cost, and risk of having a judge or jury decide their fate, and perhaps that of their family, mediation should be considered as an option.
Anita J. Margolis of The Law Offices of Anita J. Margolis is an Attorney and Certified Mediator in San Diego who specializes in all family and domestic issues, as well as civil disputes. She is a highly trained and effective mediator or advocate who truly enjoys finding innovative solutions and facilitating conflict resolution, whether serving in the capacity of a neutral mediator or as a legal representative of a party/client.