When Is Mediation Appropriate?

Mediation is both a realistic and an appropriate means to resolve conflict only if certain things are true about the parties. If the below five things are true, mediation can be expected to be successful in the large majority of cases.

  1. The parties must both actually want to reach an agreement.
  2. The parties must be willing to sincerely listen to the other’s point of view.
  3. The parties must both be willing to compromise, on some level.
  4. Each party must want the other party to feel that the result is fair.
  5. Each party must be willing to sincerely consider suggestions made by the mediator which are consistent with the law and with likely outcomes in court.

Mediation is not appropriate and will not be successful if any of the below five things are true.

  1. Either of the parties is trying to obtain a result which he or she has already decided should be the outcome.
  2. Either of the parties is trying to impose his or her will upon the other.
  3. There exists a history of physical or substantial emotional abuse between the parties.
  4. There exists what is called a “power imbalance,” which means that one party is so intimidating or forceful that the other party is unable to discuss the issues. That party may feel that he or she is not safe or is not an equal and respected participant in the process.
  5. Either party is unable or unwilling to consider and accept legal information provided by the mediator.