Alabama Alternative Dispute Resolution: Mediation
Not every legal issue results in a trial or court room proceeding. In fact, a majority of legal issues are settled outside of the courtroom. There are many different types of Alabama alternative dispute resolution (ADR). One such alternative dispute resolution is mediation. Mediation is a process in which both sides of a dispute come together to reach an agreement on their own with the help of a mediator. Even if you are keeping your case out of court, an attorney is an instrumental part of the mediation process – either in acting as representation for one of the parties involved or as the mediator.
Basics of Mediation
The mediation process revolves around a neutral third party, the mediator, who helps parties reach an agreement upon which both sides mutually agree. Mediation gives each party a setting to express their desires regarding the situation at hand outside of a courtroom and not in the presence of a judge. Mediation is a sort of conversation between both parties that allows them to deep dive into the issues of the dispute.
A mediator acts as the facilitator of the conversation. A mediator cannot make a binding decision over the dispute. However, if the parties come to an agreement and sign an agreement, then there is a legally binding agreement between the parties. The mediator helps to coordinate the time, place, and location of where the mediation will take place. There is no required place of mediation, but it must be agreed upon by the parties. There is the potential for mediation to take place over the phone, but the mediator must agree to that.
Mediation is a private and confidential process, Alabama law requires so. Rule 11 of the Alabama Civil Court Mediation Rules states that “all information disclosed in the course of a mediation, including oral, documentary, or electronic information, shall be deemed confidential and shall not be divulged by anyone in attendance” unless otherwise permitted. The mediator is tasked with trying to keep the information as confidential as possible.
Preparing for Mediation
Mediation is not something either party should go into without proper preparation. Much like a trial, a mediation needs to be prepared for so that all claims can be backed up with evidence. Days before a mediation, the attorneys representing the parties might exchange a mediation statement. This is a summary of the legal arguments and facts of the case that each side might be planning on using. The exchange of these summaries allow for each side to weigh the strength of the other side’s argument prior to mediation and know what outcome might be likely for their side.
Common Mediation Case Types
Mediation can be an option in a variety of cases. Common types of cases in which mediation can be used include:
- Construction disputes
- Private disputes
- Civil disputes
- Products liability
- Landlord-tenant disputes
- Family law
- Discrimination cases
- Employment issues
- Environmental cases
- Personal property disputes
- Real property disputes
- Wrongful death
Benefits of Legal Mediation
You might be wondering why mediation should be something you consider for your case. These are some of the benefits of going through mediation:
- Increased Control. Mediation gives both sides more control over the agreement between them than a court might decide. Each side is able to negotiate their side directly and have a say in what the agreement between the parties will be.
- Voluntary Participation. In most instances, mediation is voluntary. Either party is able to withdraw from the process at any time.
- Cost Effective. Taking a case to trial can be costly. An agreement being made during mediation could greatly reduce the costs that might be otherwise associated to the case.
- Speed. A trial can take months, or even years, to come to a conclusion. Mediation takes place on the parties’ terms and can be completed a lot more quickly than the traditional courtroom setting would allow.
- Convenience. Mediation allows you to have a say in the time and place of the mediation. You can choose a time and place convenient for you.
Need a Legal Mediator?
Whether you are considering going through the mediation process or taking a case all the way to trial, the domestic relations attorneys at Massey, Stotser & Nichols, PC are here to help. Our attorneys are board certified mediators and are prepared to represent you and help move toward a preferred outcome given the specific circumstances of your case.