The New Mexico Mediation Association advocates that many types of disputes can be settled through mediation in a prompt, non-adversarial, private, and relatively inexpensive manner.
There are many ways to resolve conflicts – surrendering, running away, overpowering your opponent with violence, filing a lawsuit, etc. The movement toward Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) grew out of the belief that there are better methods of resolving conflict than resorting to violence or going to court.
Frequently Asked Questions about Mediation
What is Mediation?
Most people are not familiar with the mediation process. They become interested when they find themselves facing a dispute between themselves and another party. Or if a court has mandated mediation prior to an actual court proceeding or if mediation is mandated through contract language.
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process in which a neutral third-party facilitator helps people discuss difficult issues and negotiate an agreement. Basic steps in the process include gathering information, framing the issues, developing options, negotiating, and formalizing agreements. Parties in mediation create their own solutions and the mediator does not have any decision-making power over the outcome.
The final settlement agreement is a legal document and can be enforced in a court of law.
What Types of Disputes Can Be Addressed Through Mediation?
Conflict resolution can be used to help resolve almost any type of dispute. Family mediators, for example, help people with divorce, custody issues, parent-child or sibling conflicts, elder care issues, family business concerns, adoption, premarital agreements, neighbor disputes, etc. Other types of conflicts that respond well to alternative dispute resolution include workplace disputes, labor/management issues, environmental/public policy issues, health care disputes, international conflicts, and many others
What Are the Benefits of Mediation?
Mediation allows parties to maintain greater control of their lives and make their own decisions. The process fosters understanding, cooperation, and agreements that work for both parties. It usually costs less money and takes less time than litigation, and compliance with agreements is often higher than with court-imposed judgments. Another primary benefit is privacy. The process is confidential, allowing parties to avoid public disclosure of sensitive information in the courts
Who are Mediators?
The mediator’s role is not to decide who is right or who is wrong, but to facilitate discussions between the parties to help them reach a settlement that is fair and equitable to both parties.
- Are community members and professionals trained in conflict resolution techniques.
- Help people identify their needs, clarify issues, explore solutions, find common ground and negotiate resolutions.
- Do not take sides with either party and
- Do not render a decision or judgement.
What Training Is Required to Become a Mediator?
There are no national training requirements or credentials for mediators. States vary widely in their approach to regulating the field, with some states choosing to “license” mediators while other states may “register” or “certify.” Currently, only four states (FL, NH, TX, VA) have certification programs. There is an increasing trend toward mediator rosters and credentialing programs through professional organizations. NMMA is currently working towards implementing a mediator credentialing program for New Mexico.
Most new mediators begin with a 40-hour basic training and a 20-hour advanced training. Some people begin their practice by volunteering at a community mediation center or co-mediating cases with an experienced mediator. Others go on to complete an advanced degree and/or certificate program in conflict resolution at a college or university.
How Widespread Is the Practice of Conflict Resolution?
Mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution gained popularity in the 1980s and the trajectory of growth has risen steadily ever since. Although programs vary widely, all jurisdictions now have some type of ADR program. Some jurisdictions have mandatory programs, such as requiring disputants in certain cases (such as divorce) to take parenting classes or meet with a mediator to attempt to resolve custody issues. As public awareness of ADR has grown, so has the number mediators working in private practice. Some examples of the growing use of ADR include:
- The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Act of 1998 requires federal district courts to adopt an official ADR program.
- The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service now employs nearly 200 full-time mediators.
- The U.S Postal Service, the nation’s largest employer, conducts over 10,000 mediations a year through its REDRESS program.
- According to the National Center for State Courts, 16 states currently require some form of mandatory mediation, while another 16 have voluntary or discretionary use of mediation in cases involving divorce, child custody, small claims, landlord/tenant disputes, etc.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission currently employs more than 100 full-time mediators to assist with employment discrimination cases.
- The U.S. Dept. of Justice sponsors a national mediation program through the Keybridge Foundation to settle complaints filed under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
- The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), Amendments of 1997 [P.L. 105-17], require state departments of education to provide mediation services to help resolve differences between school systems and families of children with disabilities.
- According to a 1998 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cornell University, 88 percent of American corporations had used mediation and 79 percent used arbitration in the previous three years. In addition, over 84 percent said that they were likely or very likely to use mediation in the future, while 69 percent said the same about arbitration.