Is having your “day in court” worth it?

By Kate Hall, JD, Mediator

People who are involved in dispute often think that they will get the outcome they want if they are able to get to court, get up on the witness stand, get sworn in, and tell the judge their side of the story. People often think that once the judge hears their side, the judge will certainly make a decision in their favor.  

Of course, sometimes this is true - but a full 50% of people walk out of court unhappy.  

This is not to say that going to court is always a mistake. However, it is good business to do a cost/benefit analysis when you have or anticipate a dispute. Talk to an attorney about what your options are and what dispute resolution process fits your needs.  

When deciding on your process, it is important to know that solving disputes with the help of the court is expensive - simply filing a case in court will cost a few hundred dollars depending on the type of case, and going all the way to trial might cost thousands of dollars. Paying one professional mediator instead of multiple attorneys and the court often brings down the total costs. Putting your situation in the hands of a stranger, no matter how well qualified that person is, is also uncertain - going to court does not guarantee the outcome that you think is right. 

One alternative to court is mediation. In the mediation process, people who are involved in a dispute, along with a mediator, determine the ground rules for a conversation that is designed to come to an outcome that fits the needs of everyone involved. One of the necessary ground rules is for mediation to work successfully is respectful listening.  In this process, your side of the story will be heard - so maybe you don't have to pay a lot of money for an outcome that may not fit your needs.

Why Mediation?

Why Mediation?

By Kate Hall, JD, Mediator

If you are having or anticipate a dispute with a neighbor, spouse, or friend that you feel you need help to resolve, there are several options that do not involve going to court. One option is mediation. Mediation is:

-private and confidential

-cost-effective 

-fair and equitable

-focused on achieving an outcome that prevents future dispute

-based on the specific needs, schedules, and circumstances of the people involved

What is mediation?

Mediation is a type of dispute resolution process. It is for people who are thinking differently about the same situation and who have the intention to find a resolution that fits everyone’s needs. The people involved are assisted by a mediator, who is neutral, meaning that the mediator does not advocate for either side. The mediator also does not decide any issues like a judge would.    Instead, the people involved come to a resolution that fits their specific circumstances. 

A mediator provides structure to the conversation and keeps it focused on the issues at hand. At the beginning of mediation, the mediator and the people involved set ground rules for the conversation and an agenda together. The people involved talk about their experience and what outcomes they would like to see from the dispute. Once all issues are explored, options are brainstormed, and potential outcomes are evaluated, the mediator will write up an agreement, or contract between the people involved in the dispute. The agreement is designed to provide guidance in case a similar issue comes up again.