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Mediation: a strong alternative to litigation in many instances

A recent family law-related article makes this central claim about mediation as a dispute resolution mechanism: Mediation, notes the media piece, serves "to help people make decisions while resolving conflict constructively."

To the extent that is true (and there is a lot of study-based and anecdotal evidence indicating that it is), it immediately identifies the strong utility that attaches to divorce mediation and mediation in other contexts, such as business.

The obvious reason underlying such value is that conflict can be an all-consuming negative. A bitter dispute in any realm, whether a Georgia divorce or business schism, can be an exhausting and deflating process. If recourse to litigation becomes an imperative, formal adversarialism can rear its ugly head, resulting in enduring acrimony, large amounts of money expended and time lost.

Regarding that latter point, the National Center for State Courts -- a nonprofit group seeking to improve the American judicial system -- estimates that it takes more than two years on average to resolve a litigation matter from inception.

In many instances, mediation can deftly skirt some of those adverse consequences, while conferring an additional benefit that is of utmost importance to many participants, namely this: Parties who invoke the process exercise control over all aspects of it to a far greater degree than is the case with litigation. That empowerment is vitally important for many participants.

An attorney who is also a specially trained and certified mediator can bring added value to the process. Such a professional can serve as either counsel for one of the parties or as a neutral third-party mediator that works on behalf of both parties seeking to settle a dispute.

Source: Poughkeepsie Journal, "Mediation is safer, faster, costs less than litigation," Kathryn Lazar and Jody Miller, Dec. 12, 2013

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