When a dispute arises there are a few different ways to handle it. In some difficult situations solving this dispute in court is the best solution but there are drawbacks. Litigation is expensive, time-consuming, stressful and unpredictable; it disrupts people’s lives and damages relationships; and it produces results that are rarely satisfying. In situations where you need the authority of the court in order to get the other party’s attention, you may need to litigate. Otherwise, if you have a reasonable party who understands that they have some responsibility in the matter and they’re willing to talk it out with an impartial third party, it sounds like mediation might be for you. Here are the top 3 reasons why you should mediate and NOT litigate!
1) Save Time and Money – Court isn’t quick or cheap. The price tag of a trial can get out of control quickly. Attorney fees start to add up before the trial even starts and can continue once it’s done. In addition to attorney fees, there are expenses of the pre-trial discovery phase (including depositions), court costs, expert witness fees and other litigation expenses, which together can cost many thousands of dollars.
Most court cases don’t get solved in a matter of days. Some cases can go on for years without a proper resolution. When setting up trials, courts will schedule based upon their best interests. Backlogs and delays can cause a trial to get dragged out and delayed. While parties wait for the court system to be ready for them, they have no ability to speed things along. Trials themselves are long drawn-out affairs because of courtroom protocols and rules of evidence. Once the trial concludes, parties often must wait for a ruling and in some cases sit around while appeals are decided. For business people, resolving a dispute with a trial translates into substantial time away from running their companies; for individuals, it means time away from work, family and other pursuits.
Rather than spending time and money on pre-trial procedures and in the courtroom itself, when people use mediation, their conflicts are resolved in a small fraction of the time and cost that it would take to go to trial. It is not unusual for cases to be completely settled in a short mediation session, lasting only a day or less.
2) Tell Your Own Story – In a traditional court case, people are not allowed to speak for themselves. In court, a lawyer needs to do the talking for them. This communication can be skewed due to the question and answer format of a court proceeding. Parties are limited as to what they can and cannot say by the nature of the attorneys’ inquiries and they are further restricted by the rules of evidence and other courtroom protocols. This robs the parties of a true opportunity to tell their version of the conflict and to share their perspective with the other side in the dispute.
When you are trying to state your case, it’s much more satisfying to get to tell your complete story uninhibited by the rules and processes of a traditional court case. In mediation, you are encouraged to offer your perspective on the situation and plead your case directly to the opposing party. Trained mediators, such as Ms. Ford of the Ford Law Firm, are able to control the dialogue to ensure an environment of understanding and fairness.
3) Control and Privacy – When you decide to litigate your case, you give up control and privacy. You must trust that the legal process is going to work the way it’s supposed to when going to court. When parties go to court, they cede all control of the end-result to a third-party and they are robbed of the ability to create the solution. It makes little sense that the very people whose lives are affected by a conflict would voluntarily allow an outsider to decide their future, yet this is precisely how our court system operates. When mediating, you have the ability to not only state your case, but you can craft the potential solution.
When you litigate, not only are you handing over your fate to the court, but what is said in court can become public record and will give the public a very clear view of the conflict. For some, this airing of dirty laundry can have an adverse affect on their professional or personal relationships. By contrast, mediation allows the parties to avoid public disclosure of private matters.
Have you considered mediation for your current concern? Reach out to Corene C. Ford, who is a certified court appointed mediator, at Tilchin & Hall, P.C. at (248) 349-6203 or email her below.
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