|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
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
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?
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
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 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
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
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.
|Emilia R. Castillo, Attorney at Law
3418 Northeast 65th St., Suite B
Seattle, Washington 98115
Phone (206) 517-8080