Why Choose Mediation? Because it Works!

Mediation is a fair and efficient process to help you resolve your dispute and reach an agreement. A neutral mediator from the Law Office of C. Harris Schlecker can assist you in reaching a voluntary, negotiated agreement without having to go to court. Choosing mediation to resolve your dispute promotes a fair result, reduces costs and keeps you in control of the outcome.

When you go to trial, the resolution of your problem is out of your hands. After you and the other party each present your best case, the Court decides the outcome. You have no control. A mediator helps opposing parties find middle ground by working with them both together and individually to discover what issues each side is willing to compromise in order to reach a fair outcome. Instead of a judge or jury telling you how you must resolve your problem, you decide for yourself.

Family Law Disputes
Resolve your separation, divorce, custody, and division of property disputes without going to court.
If you are separated from your spouse, resolve these issues before they become the subject of a pendente lite hearing (when the court settles these issues for separated couples prior to the actual divorce).

If you have children, your soon-to-be-ex spouse will never be completely out of your life. Even if he/she is a step-parent to your children, MD law may allow him/her to have visitation with your children.

Messy, antagonistic divorces are hard on you and hard on children. When you mediate your separation or divorce, the stage is set for a cooperative relationship for the benefit of the children. Instead of the Courts deciding this important and critical aspect of your lives, reach an agreement in a way that will make it easier to deal with your ex as divorced co-parents.

Civil Disputes
Are you considering filing a lawsuit against another person or a business? Consider inviting them to mediate the dispute.

Typical civil cases that are mediated include business disputes, landlord-tenant disputes, small claims disputes, and contract disputes.

Filing suit is expensive, stressful, and time-consuming. Even though most lawyers will work for a contingency fee (“you don’t win, you don’t pay”) for such cases, they will take a large percentage of the award if you win. And it can take a very long time to resolve.

Why should you accept a plaintiff’s offer to mediate? Agreeing to mediation is not an admission that you did anything wrong. It is a means of avoiding going to court. Even if you go to court and win, it may cost you more than simply settling the dispute for less than the cost of litigation. Furthermore, mediation is beneficial when dealing with a party you must maintain a good relationship with, such as a neighbor, business partner, or family member.


Can my case be mediated?
Typical civil cases that are mediated include business disputes, landlord-tenant disputes, small claims disputes, divorces, child custody disputes and contract disputes.

One of the primary reasons to choose mediation over typical litigation is if you are concerned about maintaining an important relationship with the person on the other side. Mediation is more cooperative and collaborative, so it is a good choice for disputes that involve business partners, co-parents, family, or next door neighbors.

Are there cases where I shouldn’t consider mediation?
Even if your case can be mediated, you should always question whether it is the best option given your goals and situation. Some typical reasons to not mediate might include:

  • You strongly feel that the other party should have to admit or be found guilty. Mediation will typically not involve any sort of admission of guilt; instead, it is structured more like a compromise.
  • You want to send a “message” or establish a legal precedent. Results from mediation are not binding on other parties, so even if you mediate a successful result from a large company, it will have no bearing on future cases against that company.
  • You believe a jury would be extremely sympathetic and award you a big verdict. Mediation is a compromise, and as such it tends to exclude extremely large settlements that juries can sometimes award.

Do I need a lawyer for mediation?
Mediation does not require a lawyer; in fact part of the advantage of mediation is the lack of a lawyer and the corresponding legal fees. However, you may want to hire a lawyer as a consultant to offer advice during the mediation which is substantially cheaper than hiring a lawyer to litigate your case. Also, a lawyer should generally be consulted to discuss the consequences of the mediation and any settlement.

How long does mediation typically take?
Statistically, most mediation cases only last a day or two. This is partly because mediation is less cumbersome than litigation, but also because people typically take smaller disputes to mediation and save really large complex claims for litigation. Larger business and divorce/custody mediation may last significantly longer – weeks even – but this is still much quicker than traditional litigation.

What does the mediation process typically look like?
While there is no formal mediation process, typically mediation will follow these steps:

  • The mediator will introduce him or herself and make some opening comments about the rules and goals of mediation.
  • Each side is given the opportunity to describe the dispute as he or she sees it without interruption from the other side.
  • Depending on the nature of the dispute and the parties, the mediator may then start a mutual discussion with both of the parties present or may engage each party privately, going back and forth, working out each issue. The mediator does not share any information discussed with parties in private without consent.
  • After discussing the issues with the parties, a mediator will typically bring both parties together to jointly negotiate a solution.
  • If the negotiation is successful, then the mediator will put down the agreement in writing, advise them to consult a lawyer, and ask them to sign pending their lawyer’s agreement.
  • If the negotiation was not successful, the mediator will typically summarize the issues the parties did agree on, and advise them of their rights going forward.

Is mediation fair?
Mediation should result in a fair compromise, because both sides are more able to freely discuss potential problems (mediation does not result in a public record unlike court cases) and neither side is bound unless he or she explicitly agrees to the proposed settlement. This means neither party is bound by the decisions of a judge or jury, and only agrees to what he or she considers fair.

Is mediation different than arbitration?
Mediation and arbitration are similar processes, with one really significant difference. A mediator typically doesn’t have authority to make a decision without the approval of both parties. An arbitrator, on the other hand, is more like a judge and has the authority to make a decision over both parties without their consent. Consequently, since the stakes are higher in arbitration, it typically follows a more court-like process with formal rules, the calling of witnesses, presentation of evidence, formal arguments, etc.

Does a mediator have to be licensed?
Not in Maryland. However, a mediator must be certified in order to handle court-ordered mediations. Furthermore, certification helps assure you that your mediator has the skills necessary to help you resolve your dispute. C. Harris Schlecker is certified to mediate both family and civil disputes.