A Less Adversarial Way To Resolve Civil Disputes
Mediation uses a neutral party (usually a lawyer) to help the two sides in a civil dispute reach a settlement out of court. A form of alternative dispute resolution, mediation is a way to reach a resolution that will make both sides feel comfortable — at a reasonable cost.
In Colorado, mediation is mandatory in civil litigation that involves more than $100,000 in damages. Mediation may also be required in child custody disputes and is increasingly ordered by judges in a wide range of civil law cases. While I am not a mediator, I often represent clients who go through the mediation process.
Why You Need Legal Advice In Mediation
The mediator does not represent the interests of either side in mediation. Rather, the mediator is a neutral facilitator who helps both sides reach an agreement. The mediator cannot give legal advice to either side. Mediation is confidential. What is said in mediation stays in the mediation.
While the outcome of mediation can be an agreement that both sides can live with, it can also be an agreement that favors the more verbal or aggressive side. If you are going through a divorce because your spouse was too dominating, that same behavior can affect your mediation sessions. If the result would be a skewed or unfair agreement, then mediation will not really be beneficial to either party.
The results of mediation, an agreement, are binding on both sides. Therefore, you should always seek an attorney’s advice, prior to mediation, to find out your rights and reasonable expectations for the potential mediated agreement. Having an attorney advise you before your mediation sessions can prepare you for what is ahead. Having an attorney present for the mediation can be even more important. You then have immediate access to your lawyer for any questions you may have.