The word mediation is often used in an informal context, such as helping friends settle a dispute. However, it is also frequently applied in a formal legal setting, such as when it is ordered by a court, or when two parties are in the process of filing for divorce. Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that involves a neutral person helping people with a conflict come to an agreement. It is generally less formal than a court case or arbitration and focuses more on finding solutions than making a binding decision.

A mediator can be an attorney, retired judge or other neutral who helps the parties in a dispute discuss the matter and find a mutually acceptable resolution. They may be hired through a private company or a court-sponsored program. Mediation is a voluntary process, and participants have an effective veto over its outcome. It is also a more cost-effective way of resolving a dispute than litigation.

Unlike in court or arbitration, mediation sessions are typically confidential, and any information discussed is not available to the public. There are some exceptions, such as when the discussion could potentially reveal child abuse or imminent threats of harm to a person, or when it would be in violation of the law.

The parties and the mediator usually choose where the mediation will take place, who will be present at the sessions, how the mediator is paid, and other procedural decisions. They will also identify the underlying issues of the dispute and explore options for resolution. If they reach an agreement, the mediator will translate it into a written document that can be enforced in court. what is mediation

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