December 28th, 2022

The Advantages of Utilizing Mediation in Washington State


Navigating conflict with anyone can be difficult and stressful. Whether you are exploring your divorce options, facing a child custody negotiation, or approaching a real estate transaction, it’s natural to feel apprehensive and overwhelmed during this immense period of transition. For many people, the thought of litigation creates additional stress and intimidation as they picture dramatic courtroom battles and contentious arguments with the other party. Fortunately, there are alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services other than litigation, one of which is mediation. The mediation process allows disputing parties to work collaboratively to determine a mutually agreeable resolution. In fact, most Washington state jurisdictions require some form of ADR before the parties can proceed to litigation. Let’s explore some of the benefits of mediation for helping disputing parties in the Seattle area obtain a fair and favorable outcome.

Understanding How Mediation Works in Washington State

Mediation serves as a process for helping disputing parties arrive at a workable resolution. The parties negotiate the issues with the guidance and support of a neutral third party, called the mediator. Unlike a judge, the mediator does not determine the outcome. The mediator serves as a facilitator, encouraging the parties to communicate openly, respectfully, and productively with one another and helping them work through minor disputes to keep the conversation moving forward. In shuttle mediation, the parties remain in separate rooms while the mediator moves between them until they both agree on the resolution. Once the parties reach an agreement, the mediator will submit it to the court for approval. Although mediation works for many, the matter may need to proceed to litigation if an agreement cannot be reached.

Identifying the Main Benefits of Mediation

There are several advantages to using mediation to resolve a dispute, whether you are pursuing a divorce, sorting out child custody arrangements, or tackling a real estate matter. Below are some potential upsides to using mediation to resolve your legal dispute.

An Informal and Supportive Environment

For many people, the thought of going to court creates some anxiety and stress. The formality of courtroom proceedings can be intimidating, making it more difficult for the parties to discuss sensitive issues or articulate their thoughts. Mediation is a much less formal process, as it only involves the mediator, the parties, and their attorneys (if applicable). Mediation focuses much more on facilitating collaboration and compromise, unlike litigation, where each party strives to make its claim the strongest. The mediator will meet separately with each party to understand their concerns and goals, then shuttle back and forth between the parties until they arrive at a workable solution. Many people who participate in mediation find the supportive and collaborative environment to be comforting and more conducive to productive negotiation.

A Less Expensive Alternative

It’s no secret that the cost of litigation can be substantial. Courtroom proceedings can take weeks or months to resolve—particularly complicated cases may take over a year until the judge issues a final ruling. This considerable amount of time usually means higher costs for both parties. In contrast, mediation moves forward much more quickly, saving both parties valuable time and money. The parties enjoy greater flexibility with scheduling a mediation, as they are not constrained by the courtroom’s schedule. Mediation allows the parties to resolve their matter within a short period of time, enabling them to obtain the resolution they need to focus on other issues.

Actively Shaping the Outcome

Another benefit of mediation is that the parties—not the judge or jury—directly determine the outcome. Through negotiation and compromise, you and the other party can arrive at a solution that works for you both. Several people who have participated in mediation walk away feeling satisfied and empowered by the process, as they have taken an active role in shaping the resolution. Since disputes resolved through mediation are determined by the parties, they are much less likely to be contested or disputed later on.

Finding the Right Mediator For You

As you start exploring your mediation options in King County, it’s important to take some time to find a mediator who best serves your needs. Whether you are looking for a mediator who is direct and efficient or you would prefer someone who is more empathetic and supportive, be sure to contact a few mediators to find someone who best suits your communication style. Divorce and family law matters are inherently personal, so you will want to be sure you trust your mediator to help you reach your desired outcome. Find someone who answers your questions, addresses your concerns, and provides you with the reassurance and confidence you need to move through this process with greater ease. Ultimately, you can walk away from this experience feeling lighter and more hopeful about the future.

If you are exploring your mediation options in the Seattle area, the Hemmat Law Group is here to answer your questions. Call (206) 682-5200 today to learn more.

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John Socha is Hemmat Law's firm’s Legal Operations Director. He graduated from the University of Washington and has led HLG's administration since 2019.