California residents involved in a legal dispute may sometimes choose to seek a settlement privately and informally through mediation. While a judge presides over court proceedings, mediation takes place in the presence of a neutral third party who is not able to make binding decisions. The goal of mediation is to help disputing parties to reach an amicable agreement rather than to decide matters one way or the other. Although there is no bar against having legal representation, mediation proceedings are often conducted without attorneys present.
Privacy is one of the main advantages of the mediation process. Disclosures in a courtroom become part of the public record, but mediation is private in all but a few situations. Mediation is often completed far more quickly than conventional litigation, and the parties involved may save substantial amounts in legal fees. The process also gives the participants the ability to reach their own decisions rather than being compelled to abide by legal rulings.
Most non-criminal disputes can be resolved through mediation, but the process may have particular appeal for those involved in family law disputes over matters such as child custody or divorce. Mediation may be sought in such disputes because the parties involved often have good reasons to settle their differences quickly and privately. Disputes involving neighbors, business associates and landlords and tenants are also frequently resolved through mediation.
While mediation may appear to be an attractive option for California residents involved in a dispute, a successful outcome is often heavily reliant on the experience and skills of the mediator. A family law attorney could explain how mediation differs from the conventional legal process. Mediation can save time and money, but it may also involve less conflict and lead to a fairer outcome.