When Should You Consider Mediation Over Filing a Legal Case?
When facing a relationship or legal issue, it’s common to assume that the only way to resolve it is through litigation. However, litigation can be time-consuming, costly, and emotionally draining. As a lawyer, I have observed that many disputes could have been resolved without going to court.
In this post, I will share my insights on why mediation can be a better option than litigation, and when you should consider mediation over filing a legal case.
One incident that comes to mind is when a lady approached me for a divorce, and she was in a tearing hurry. She had already approached a well-known lawyer who advised her to create a situation where her husband could be accused of harassment. I was not surprised, as I have seen many such cases at work. After assessing the situation, I suggested that they go for mediation. The end result was that they live in separate houses and have not gone in for a divorce. They are cordial and the families are relieved from constant fights.
When I started my legal practice, my senior lawyer gave me valuable advice when dealing with divorcing couples. He advised me never to be in a rush to file the case in matters concerning relationships. External factors like parents, siblings, work, and technology have a significant impact on relationships. Nowadays, smartphones and constant connectivity have increased interactions between people to an unhealthy extent. Seemingly simple, but the micromanaging of lives is going unnoticed.
This is why I decided to name my initiative for mediation “outofcourt.” It means to convey the message that it’s better to use mediation and avoid litigation as much as possible.
As a junior lawyer, I had to handle all sorts of redundant cases that were just languishing in lawyers’ offices and moving between court offices and courts. These cases had no serious legal aspects, but they slowed down the entire court administration’s precious time, which could have been used for serious legal cases that need serious attention. Justice delayed is justice denied.
The scene today is that when people have problems, be it relationship, paperwork clarity, or civil matters, they simply reach out to a lawyer. This is because alternate forums are not popular, and a lawyer is easily available as a connection or within the family.
So, how do you know when it’s not okay to file a case? How can you resolve a matter if you don’t go to court? While in a matter of dispute, conflict, legal or not, if relationships are involved, then think twice, and consider the following before taking the matter to court.
Here are some checkpoints for people exploring the legal route:
Step back and assess the situation and pick any of these:
- Practice active listening: Giving the other person space to express their feelings and actively listening to their perspective can actually open doors to a new aspect of a relationship rather than the current conflict.
- Empathy: Putting oneself in the other person’s shoes and understanding their feelings and perspectives can help foster understanding and strengthen the relationship.
- Seek support from a trusted elder, relative, therapist, or counselor: Working with a professional can provide guidance and support in working through relationship issues.
- Practice letting go of past grudges and forgiving each other: This can help rebuild trust and strengthen the relationship.
- Creating boundaries and respecting each other’s needs: This can help prevent future conflicts.
- Self-reflection: Examining one’s own behavior and identifying areas for improvement can help prevent future relationship issues. This can be done with the help of a friend, elder, or a therapist as well.
- Identifying shared values and interests: This can help strengthen the bond between both parties.
- Take a break: Sometimes, taking a break from the relationship can provide the space and perspective needed to determine whether it’s worth continuing. It’s not about quitting.
- Practice effective communication: Often, using “I” statements and expressing feelings and concerns in a non-accusatory way can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts.
10. Engage in deep conversations: Talking about deeper topics, such as hopes, dreams, and fears, can help build intimacy and connection. This may be difficult when facing a conflict however, it exists as an option.
11. Show appreciation: Expressing gratitude and appreciation for each other can help foster a positive and healthy relationship.
12. Set realistic expectations and goals together: Doing so can help prevent future conflicts.
13. Keep a journal: Writing down thoughts and feelings can provide a space for self-reflection and can help identify areas for improvement.
14. Step back and assess the situation: Is communication the factor? Can a proper way of communication be established? Would it help to sit across the table, put the facts in front of the conflicting parties and sort out the matter?
15. Can an elder or a person with a good influence over the relationship be asked to intervene?
16. A little space is created between the conflicting parties to cool off and reassess the matter.
17. Observe if the matter at hand has other outward factors influencing it, such as the conflicts of others or home/workplace situations. The results of this will be astonishing. How external factors affect personal relationships.
- Mediation is a process where a neutral person facilitates smooth conversations between parties in conflict.
- It is a safe space for expressing complex emotions and feelings that are often lost in litigation.
- Mediation can be done in person or online from the comfort of your home.
- The legal aspect of the issue is addressed in court, so you only need to go to court for that limited purpose.
- Mediation can save time, money, and the stress of going through a lengthy litigation process.
Meena Pershad Waghray
Founder outofcourt.in, Lawyer, Chief Mediator, Trainer in Mediation.
Send a mail for more details to email@example.com
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