A mediation center is a facility that provides mediation and facilitation services as well as training in mediation and facilitation. Mediation is a process in which a trained mediator helps parties to a dispute reach a mutually agreeable solution to the dispute. These types of centers generally offer mediation services for many legal issues, including divorce proceedings, landlord-tenant disputes, and medical and health matters. The process generally has a higher rate of compliance with its settlements than other types of dispute resolution because the parties help to fashion the settlements themselves.
Using a mediation center in any form of dispute allows the parties to become a part of the decision-making process. The mediator is a neutral party within the negotiations, and he or she works with all the parties to craft a solution to the specific dispute. Each party has a say in what will work as part of the solution. This differs from a court proceeding, where the court is the decision maker.
It might save considerable time and money in a dispute resolution process to use a mediation center. The parties to the dispute determine the speed of their proceedings. They generally split costs for mediation services, and the costs for the mediation process can be a fraction of those of a court case.
Mediation is confidential between the parties. A mediation center generally has a formal agreement for the parties to execute prior to beginning the mediation process that binds the parties by law and agreement to keep everything within the mediation confidential. This allows the parties to discuss openly any of the issues within the dispute because the information will not be a part of a public court proceeding. Information disclosed in a mediation process cannot be used against a party at a later date in a court proceeding.
Additional advisers may be included within mediation that cannot be included in a court proceeding. A mediation center may provide parties to a dispute with names of other types of experts such as tax advisers, financial planners, and counselors to assist within the dispute resolution process. These additional advisers help the parties and the mediator develop a solution to the dispute.
A mediation center generally uses attorneys as its mediators. These attorney-mediators provide legal information to the parties but cannot provide legal advice to the parties. Some parties choose to attend mediation on their own while others choose to attend with their own legal counsel. A signed, mediated agreement is a contract enforceable in court. Thus if the parties are not represented by counsel, it is suggested that they seek legal counsel prior to executing the agreement.