What Is Mediation In South Carolina?
Mediation is a form of what legal professionals refer to as Alternative Dispute Resolution. Simply put, mediation is a way to resolve a dispute without having to go to trial. Through the mediation process, an impartial third party serves as a facilitator to help the parties come up with an arrangement that can work for everyone. This can be done in the presence of the parties’ respective attorneys or simply with the parties themselves when litigants are not represented by counsel. This is the stage in which the parties can create their own settlement agreement prior to having to go to trial and is a wonderful opportunity to avoid future stress and expense by reaching a settlement early. Participants do not lose their right to have a trial by participating in mediation, but clients can experience many benefits by avoiding litigation when a settlement can be reached.
What Are The Clear Benefits Of Mediation?
In my opinion and in my experience, there are numerous clear benefits to mediation. Trials tend to be quite expensive and emotionally taxing – particularly in family court. Unfortunately, animosity between the parties may increase because of the nature of the environment of the adversarial legal system. Overall, it can often be quite difficult in many ways for the parties, as well as for any children who may be involved. Mediation is a wonderful way to avoid all of these potential stresses. Judges are often confined to pick from a few standard arrangements based on limited information, within a limited amount of time. In mediation, however, parties have the opportunity to be as creative as they want to be within the bounds of the law. This allows them to create a settlement that works best for them, their children, and anyone else who happens to be involved in their particular litigation.
Mediation is absolutely a golden opportunity to save time, money, and stress. Ultimately, it gives people the opportunity to be masters of their own destiny rather than handing over their fate to someone else who simply cannot know them and cannot know their family as well as they do. In my opinion, there are essentially no drawbacks to mediation. The worst case scenario is simply being unable to reach an agreement.
It might be argued that a potential drawback of mediation is that a party might agree to something that ultimately could have worked out better for him or her at trial. But in my opinion, when you weigh the costs and benefits of trial versus avoiding a trial where possible, and if you reach a settlement that’s acceptable to everyone, I believe that parties still come out on top by opting for mediation, whether or not certain elements might have been decided in anyone’s favor. So again, by going to trial, you do not have the luxury of knowing with any certainty where you are going to end up or what you are going to get. This is a huge gamble, and mediation is the place to make sure that you can keep things in your own hands.
What Generally Happens During The Mediation Process?
In my practice, when I am first appointed or selected as the mediator for a case, I will begin by sending out introductory information to all of the parties, usually via email. At that time, I will also collect information from the parties. I will retrieve whatever court documents have already been filed in connection with the case from either the parties or their attorneys along with any other the necessary potentially helpful information, in order to start developing a good understanding of their unique situation. Typically, once we actually begin with the session, I will start out with an introduction to the process, cover the ground rules, and make sure that everyone has a clear and complete understanding of exactly how the process works and how it will unfold.
Next, I usually like to speak with each of the parties individually in order to make sure I have a good idea of exactly what their goals and values are. Once I’ve had a chance to speak with everyone individually, I will usually make a decision to either continue, or to simply move back and forth between the parties. In some cases, I may decide to bring the parties back together depending on the circumstances and how productively they work together. Throughout this process, I essentially work with the parties to come up with ideas about arrangements that might be acceptable to them. I present these ideas until we’ve reached an option that will work and is acceptable to everyone.
On occasion, there are parties that are ultimately unable to reach an agreement, in which case we have to declare an impasse. As a result, the parties must move on to trial. A settlement in mediation is not a guarantee, and it is not required. However, in my experience, the vast majority of parties with the benefit of the facilitation of a mediator have been able to achieve settlements. It is very rewarding for everyone involved to experience the success of having negotiated a workable settlement that is in the best interest of all the parties involved and to have successfully completed a process that brings the stressful and tumultuous experience of family court litigation to a close.
For more information on Mediation In South Carolina, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (843) 856-2222 today.