Grieving the loss of a loved one can be an emotional time. Whether the death was sudden, such as in a car crash or whether the death came after a long illness or old age, losing a loved one is never easy. The situation can become even more emotionally charged when a family member wants to challenge the deceased’s will or trust. This can drive a wedge between family members during a time when they should be able to lean on one another for support. Therefore, instead of pitting one family member against another in court, some families choose to first pursue alternative dispute resolution processes, such as mediation.

Mediation is an out-of-court method for people in California to resolve their disputes in a mutually satisfactory manner. In mediation, people will not call witnesses or present evidence. Instead, it is simply the two parties and their attorneys working with the aid of a trained mediator to negotiate a settlement.

Mediators are neutral third parties. Unlike judges, mediators will not make a binding decision in a case. Instead, mediators will serve as a facilitator to the parties to help them work through their issues so they can reach a resolution that they both agree on.

In addition, unlike litigation, mediation is private. Litigated trials become part of the public record, but anything said in mediation cannot be used as evidence should the mediation process fail, and the parties are forced to litigate. This can help the parties feel freer to express their feelings and work creatively to find a resolution to their issues.

Mediation is not necessarily for everyone, but those who are able to successfully navigate it may find that it leads to a satisfactory result to their legal issues. Not only can mediation save time and money when compared to litigation, but it can also help preserve family relationships by having the parties work with each other rather than pitting them against one another.