Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 16, 2011

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You can mediate whenever you have a dispute that could interfere with a business or personal relationship. Mediation may be less costly than going to trial to decide the issue. It may also allow you to arrive at a decision that is more reflective of your needs and priorities, as your mediator will help you to communicate openly and find a compromise that works best for all of the parties involved.

There are a number of different instances where mediation may be useful. Businesses that have strategic alliances may use mediation to resolve differences that their contracts did not contemplate, or to separate amicably. Mediation can also be an alternative to a civil lawsuit or arbitration for both businesses and individuals. Couples who are divorcing often choose mediation to avoid having their affairs documented in court records, or to protect children from any further trauma. Businesses or individuals who have begun a lawsuit can mediate at any time, in order to resolve the lawsuit.

The key to knowing whether mediation may work for you is knowing whether the person you are having a dispute with will compromise or not. Mediation depends on cooperation between the parties involved. The mediator doesn’t decide issues and doesn’t make binding rulings. He only helps you to work together. If the person you are disputing with is uncompromising, abusive, unwilling to listen, hiding evidence or otherwise engaging in negative behaviors that would make a true compromise impossible, then mediation will just be a waste of everyone’s time and money. Don’t forget, you will also have to pay for a mediator, and the longer the dispute takes to settle, the more you’ll have to pay.

If you are considering mediation, the best thing to do is to talk to a lawyer. Your attorney can assist you in evaluating the pros and cons and in making a determination about whether or not mediation is right for you.