The attorneys at the North Bay Area law firm of Favaro, Lavezzo, Gill, Caretti & Heppell, P.C. are not only skilled negotiators and litigators, but also have a wealth of experience in resolving matters through mediation. Our mediation services cover all types of civil litigation, including family law mediation.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of dispute resolution that is very different from traditional litigation. In the courtroom, each party is represented by an attorney who argues the client's position to the judge or jury through the presentation of oral and written testimony and other forms of evidence. At the end of the trial, the judge or jury decides who wins the case and who loses. The decision is binding on both parties, although it may be appealable under limited circumstances.
In a mediation, the parties meet outside of the courtroom. Each party may still be represented by an attorney, but the mediation is presided over by a trained mediator (who may or may not be an attorney) instead of a judge. There is no jury present. Mediation proceedings have varying levels of formality, but in most cases the atmosphere and the rules of evidence are more relaxed. The mediator may encourage the parties to talk directly to each other and work together toward a solution.
A mediation is generally concluded when the parties have reached agreement on the issues in dispute. The mediator may reach a "decision" on how the parties should resolve their dispute, but this decision is generally not binding on the parties like a court judgment. In some instances, an agreement may be drawn up and signed by the parties, which could constitute a binding document enforceable by a court. In general, though, the parties are not prohibited from proceeding to court if they are not satisfied with the outcome of the mediation. In some areas of law, a judge will order the parties to try mediation or some other form of dispute resolution before the case can proceed to trial.
When is Mediation the Right Choice?
When parties work together to solve their problems, they are more likely to achieve a resolution that meets all of their needs. A decision which is mutually agreed upon is also generally more likely to be followed and implemented by the parties concerned.
Business disputes or other civil litigation matters may be appropriate for mediation. Even complex cases may be resolved through mediation, although multiple mediation sessions may be required. Preparing a complex case for trial can be costly and time-consuming. Mediation has the advantage of resolving a dispute in less time and with less expense than trial in almost every instance.
Divorce is an area of law where mediation may be an especially favorable option. Divorce trials can be destructive to family relationships and cause long-term resentment and hurt feelings. When the parties can come together and mediate the divorce, they can resolve their issues with mutual dignity and respect. In a particular type of dispute resolution called collaborative practice, each party is represented by separate legal counsel who takes an active role in guiding their clients to a mutually agreed upon resolution. Our Family Law practice emphasizes mediation and collaborative practice whenever appropriate.
If you are faced with a divorce, business dispute, or other civil matter, consider the possibility of entering mediation as a way to resolve the matter. The attorneys at our firm are experienced professional mediators, as well skilled negotiators and litigators who have practiced in all types of forums, including mediations, arbitrations, and courtroom trials. Contact Favaro, Lavezzo, Gill, Caretti & Heppell, P.C. to discuss which option is right for you.