A Family Law Practice Devoted
to Alternative Dispute Resolution

Advantages of Mediation

by Michael Tobriner

What Are the Advantages of Mediation?

Mediation offers many advantages, including:

  • The parties control the outcome of the case. The mediator does not decide the case. The parties make their own decisions on the issues, with the mediator’s assistance. Mediation assumes that parties, not judges who are strangers to the case, know what will work best for themselves and their families.
  • The parties can work out solutions tailored to their particular case. Judges face a constraining straightjacket of complex laws and regulations. Mediation allows parties to fashion agreements outside those confinements.
  • Decisions become permanent and lasting. Because the parties have participated in decision-making, and because they have chosen constructive, useful solutions, agreements made in mediation generally remain permanent. Parties usually do not challenge or try to change mediated agreements, but instead remain committed to them.
  • The parties come through the process with dignity and self-respect.
  • The process is self-affirming for both parties. Each party recognizes that he or she has done his or her best to work through a difficult life transition in a constructive and productive fashion. Each party also recognizes that he or she has tried to understand and appreciate (although not necessarily agreeing with) the other party’s interests.
  • The parties can preserve a respectful, working relationship with the each other after the case is over. Mediation endorses as a goal the maintenance of a long-term positive relationship between the parties. For parties with children, such a future relationship is crucial for the children. For parties both with and without children a successful mediation enhances future good relations with former parents-in-law, former siblings-in-law, and family friends.
  • The process is efficient and effective. Experience proves that mediation works. It is not an easy experience, and it demands a high level of emotional and mental energy. But it allows participants to come directly to the point: what are the issues, what are the options, and what are the best solutions.
  • Mediation avoids the destructive aspects of litigation. All too often litigation produces hostility, bitterness, and anger between the parties. Going through it can deprive parties of their dignity and self-respect. It can destroy the chance to preserve a decent future relationship.
  • Mediation is less expensive. Although mediation is not an inexpensive proceeding, it is far less costly than litigation.