What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process in which a trained impartial person, called a mediator, helps people in a dispute communicate, understand each other, and reach agreement if possible. Mediation is voluntary, confidential, and lets the people in the dispute decide what works best for them.

The benefits of mediation are that it is voluntary, confidential, and lets people in the dispute decide what works best for them. 

Mediation is:

Voluntary - In all mediations, if the participants do not craft a solution that meets their needs, they cannot be forced to agree to anything. Agreements reached in mediation are only final when all of the participants are satisfied.

  • Court-ordered Mediation - If the parties in court-ordered mediation do not reach an agreement, they can still proceed with their case in court.

Confidential - Mediation is a confidential process, which means that anything discussed in mediation cannot be used in court. There are a few exceptions when it comes to child abuse, imminent threats of harm to a person, or allegations of duress or fraud.

  • Mediation Communications - Mediators may not be called to testify about any mediation communications, and mediators are expected to keep information confidential.

Lets You Decide - In mediation the participants decide what solutions will work for them. The mediator does not act as a decision-maker or judge. The mediator remains impartial throughout the process and will not give legal or other advice or make decisions about the dispute.

Cost - The cost of mediation varies depending on the program. In some court, government, and community programs, the service will be free or based on a sliding fee scale. In other courts and in private mediations, the cost likely will be on an hourly basis and is typically divided by the participants.

What types of disputes are appropriate for mediation?
  • Family disputes
  • Contract disputes
  • Neighborhood disputes
  • Civil lawsuits
  • Workplace disputes
  • Landlord-Tenant disputes
  • Divorce
  • Child custody
  • Business disputes
  • Home improvement and contractor disputes

Certain disputes need to be heard by a court. If you are trying to create or change a law, to have a public airing of a complaint, address serious criminal matters, to set precedent or to challenge a precedent
established by a prior lawsuit, mediation is not appropriate.

Many people in the legal and mediation fields believe cases involving domestic violence issues are not appropriate for mediation. The mediation process presumes that, with the help of the mediator, the
participants can negotiate without fear of retaliation, which might not be possible in relationships that have involved a history of domestic violence. As such, in the Maryland Rules of Procedure, Rule 9-205(b)(2)
states that the court shall not order mediation in cases where physical or sexual abuse has been alleged in good faith.

In many instances a mediator may be an attorney, just not your attorney. Mediators and attorneys have different roles.

Attorneys
represent the interests of their clients and advise them on the best way to present their case. Attorneys may discuss what could happen in court.

Mediators
do not represent either side of a dispute, even if the mediator is also an attorney. Mediators assist people in conflict to communicate with each other and resolve their conflict. In mediation you may speak
for yourself rather than having a lawyer speak for you.