Picture this: you get a phone call from the Juvenile Detention Center saying that your child has been arrested because he got into a fight at school with another student. Instead of charging the two students with a crime and setting a court date before a magistrate or judge, the court system schedules a mediation hearing. Huh, you ask? What exactly does this mean? What is mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (i.e. way to resolve a dispute without using the normal court process) whereby the parties are in control of the outcome. It is a voluntary process that is facilitated by a mediator, or a third-party neutral who is appointed by the court to help resolve the issues that put the parties in this position in the first place.
Mediation has garnered both great accolades and criticism over the recent years as it has become a more widely-used process in the court system. It is a process that is often utilized by juvenile courts when dealing with troubled children, or family courts when dealing with divorce and child-custody issues. The main reason that mediation is used in these types of cases is because it allows the parties to constructively voice their opinions, needs, and concerns, and promotes calm, rational thinking. It is through this process that the parties are able to come to an agreement that is created by them and them alone.
Think about it—if you were going through a painful divorce and you and your soon-to-be-ex both wanted custody of your children, would you rather come up with an agreement that was designed by the two of you, or would your rather put it in the hands of a judge who knows nothing about you or your family?
Next, we’ll look at an outline of the ever-popular Six-Step Method of mediation.