What is mediation?
Mediation is a private, confidential form of “alternative dispute resolution” – a process for resolving disagreements outside of the court system (litigation). The mediator acts as a neutral third party and helps find a solution that everyone finds acceptable.
Is mediation legally binding?
Mediation is voluntary, and you can withdraw at any time during the process. Once you’ve reached a tentative agreement, it is written up for your review and can then be turned into a formal written agreement. Nothing is legally binding until both parties have signed that formal agreement. Then it does become a binding legal contract.
Mediation is sometimes confused with arbitration, another form of “alternative dispute resolution” where both parties agree to be legally bound by an arbitrator’s decision. Instead of deciding for you, a mediator helps you come to your own agreement and you remain in control of the outcome. You are free to walk away up until the moment that you sign the final agreement.
What types of disputes are good candidates for mediation?
Mediation can be used to resolve any type of conflict between two or more people. It can be particularly beneficial when the parties know each other and have ongoing relationships, like spouses, siblings, parents, family and friends.
Common topics include:
- Marriage and relationship issues (divorce, separation, pre and postnuptial agreements domestic partnerships, division of assets/property, spousal support)
- Parenting issues (custody, parenting time and parenting agreements, child support issues, health and education decisions)
- Family estate issues (wills, trusts & inheritances, real estate, dividing and sharing assets)
- Family business issues (investments, succession, bankruptcy, sale, credit and debt issues)
- Adult family & elder issues (health care proxies, living wills, medical decisions, financial planning, caregivers, residence options, retirement, long-term care)