What is Mediation?

A Cooperative, Joint Solution

Mediation is a dispute resolution process that does not use a judge. With the help of
a neutral person, parties in a mediation identify points of agreement, explore
solutions and reach a joint agreement to resolve legal controversies.  The parties
are in control and shape the agreements.

Mediation is an effective tool in family disputes, and is especially sensitive to the
needs of children.

Mediation can be commenced at any time, before or during litigation and may be
used in lieu of going to court.  In King County, parties in a family law dispute are
required to engage in mediation or arbitration prior to heading to trial.


Even when parties decide to engage in a mediation, it is still a voluntary process.
Either or both parties may request to discontinue it at any time and proceed to
litigate the issues in court.

Not a Process for Reconciliation, Therapy or  "Negotiations"

Mediation can enhance communications between parties.  Reconciliation in a divorce
or separation, for example, may result.  The process may even be therapeutic.  
However, mediation is not intended to be used to help parties reconcile, nor to
provide therapy.

Mediation is a cooperative process that respects the needs of both parties.   Parties
do not attempt to "negotiate" by trying to  gain a tactical advantage

How is Arbitration Different?

Chosen Decision-Maker  

Arbitration is an out-of-court process where a neutral person considers the facts and
arguments presented by all sides and makes a decision based upon the applicable
law. It is similar to a legal proceeding, but with more relaxed rules of evidence.

Binding or Non-binding Decision

Parties agree ahead of time whether an arbitrator's decision will be binding upon
them. A  non-binding decision may be set-aside and the parties may instead
proceed to litigate the issues in court.

Is Mediation or Arbitration Right for You?

Quicker, Less Costly, Confidential

Mediation and arbitration can be advantageous to litigation as a method for
resolving disputes in some cases. Resolutions can be achieved more quickly, and
costs can be more easily contained than when the parties litigate. The proceedings
are private and confidential.  


Another great advantage to using mediation or arbitration is that the schedule and
location for the sessions can be arranged for everyone's convenience.

No court delays

There are no court delays and continuances.  All parties are given the time needed
to present their case in an arbitration.

Mediation's Advantages

Mediation is less adversarial than  litigation which is virtually guaranteed to
heighten the conflict between parties.

Agreements reached in mediation can be creative and focused on the
parties' interests.  Mediation can address a party's need for an apology, or for
recognition.  Courts are limited in providing such  remedies.

Mediation is not appropriate if either or both parties is under the influence of
alcohol or drugs during a session.

The disadvantage of mediation is that mediators have no authority to bind the
parties to any agreement without their consent. Mediation is effective if the
parties are willing to compromise.

Arbitration's Advantages

One of the greatest benefits to arbitrating a matter is that parties can choose
the arbitrator and give that person  the power to make a ruling. The arbitrator
can be someone experienced in and knowledgeable about the types of
disputes to be arbitrated.

If mediation did not resolve a dispute, arbitration may then be helpful .  The
parties can agree to certain legal procedures and rules  of evidence, as well
as set parameters outside which the arbitrator cannot make an award.

Arbitration can be used to resolve time consuming disputes over the division
of property or complex tracing problems with marital and non-marital property.
Castillo Mediation & Arbitration Services
3418 Northeast 65th St., Suite B
Seattle, Washington 98115
Phone (206) 517-8080