Chris is trained in mediating a number of different issues, including landlord/tenant, land use, contracts, business disputes, employment, homeowners associations, education and child custody matters. He is currently serving as the president of the Idaho Mediation Association and is listed on the Idaho Supreme Court roster of civil mediators and child custody mediators.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a cooperative, confidential resolution process in which the disputing parties are assisted by a neutral third-party—the mediator.
Mediators are trained to facilitate discussions and assist the disputing parties to work out their own solution to the problem. Although the mediator may hold separate conferences with the parties, it is usually best that the parties meet with the mediator in a face-to-face conference. The parties may reach a settlement or they may not, but it is the parties who determine the outcome, not the mediator.
Mediation is not necessarily a win-win situation, but an opportunity for both parties to reach a resolution that they can live with.
As long as the parties to the process understand the nature of the mediation and are committed to the process, virtually any dispute can be mediated. When considering mediation, it is important to understand that the mediation process is:
Voluntary: Both parties agree to the process and either party can end the process at any time, for any reason.
Collaborative: The parties work together to solve their own problems.
Controlled: The parties have complete decision-making power. Each party must consent to each and every provision of any mediated agreement. Nothing can or will be imposed.
Confidential: Mediation is confidential. Mediation communications and all materials developed for a mediation are not admissible in any subsequent court or contested proceedings, except for a finalized and signed mediated agreement for enforcement purposes.
Informed: The mediation process offers a full opportunity to obtain and incorporate legal and other expert information and advice. As parties, you always retain decision-making power. The parties are encouraged to obtain legal counsel and to have any mediated agreement involving legal issues reviewed by independent legal counsel prior to signing. Whether legal advice is sought is, ultimately, a decision of each participant.
Impartial: The mediator has a responsibility to assist each mediating party and cannot favor the interests of any one party over another, nor will the mediator favor a particular result in the mediation. The mediator’s role is to ensure that parties reach agreements in a voluntarily and informed manner, and not as a result of coercion or intimidation.
Self-Responsible and Satisfying: Based upon having actively resolved your own conflict, participant satisfaction, likelihood of compliance and self-esteem are found by research to be elevated through mediation.
What are the benefits of mediation?
Cost effective: Mediation is generally much less expensive when compared to the expense of litigation or other forms of dispute resolution.
Timely Negotiation and Resolution: Going to trial can take a year or longer, and the appeals process can take multiple years. Mediation provides a much more timely way of resolving disputes.
Mutually Satisfactory Outcomes: Parties are generally more satisfied with solutions that have been mutually agreed upon, as opposed to solutions that are imposed by a third party decision-maker.
High Rate of Compliance: When parties reach their own agreement in mediation they are generally more likely to follow through and comply with its terms than those whose resolution has been imposed by an outside, disinterested decision maker.
Comprehensive and Customized Agreements: Mediated settlements are able to address both legal and extralegal issues. Mediated agreements often cover procedural and psychological issues that are not necessarily susceptible to legal determination. The parties can tailor their settlement to their particular situation, including the procedures for complying with the agreement.
Greater Degree of Control and Predictability of Outcome: Parties who negotiate their own settlements have more control over the outcome of their dispute. Results are more predictable in a mediated settlement than they would be if a case goes to trial or is otherwise resolved by a third-party.
Preservation of an Ongoing Relationship or Termination of a Relationship in a More Amicable Way: Many disputes occur in the context of relationships that will continue over future years. Mediation allows the parties to focus on the future and preserve or terminate a relationship in an amicable way.
Agreements that are Better than Simple Compromises or Win/Lose Outcomes: Interest-based mediated negotiations can result in settlements that are more satisfactory to all parties than simple compromise decisions.
Decisions that Hold Up Over Time: Mediated settlements tend to hold up over time, and if a later dispute results, the parties are more likely to utilize a cooperative forum of problem-solving to resolve their differences than to pursue an adversarial approach.