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The Mediation Option for Dispute Resolution


To many, mediation still feels like a new idea, but it is becoming increasingly well-known and widely accepted. Mediation is a proven method for resolving disputes in a variety of relationships such as divorce, or in determining the rights of unmarried couples with children who may be separating.


Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party (the mediator) assists the parties in resolving their dispute by creating a neutral and supportive environment in which all issues at play in a dispute can be discussed and resolved.


All Mediation is not the Same. 

There are different styles or “models” of mediation, each reflecting a different philosophy of what mediation should be. The spectrum of mediation models runs from the “transformative” approach to the “evaluative” approach. In selecting a mediator, it is important to ask prospective mediators what style of mediation they practice and where on the spectrum their philosophy lies.


One end of the Spectrum: The Transformative Approach to Mediation


In transformative mediation (the approach practiced by Lotane Mediation) the mediator assists the parties in having a conversation about their dispute and supports their exercise of self determination by letting them decide how, or even whether, to settle their dispute. As a result, the parties gain a greater sense of strength of self, including self-respect, self-reliance, and self-confidence – in a word they become empowered. 


Also, with a mediator skilled at enhancing interpersonal communication, the parties often discover that they can feel and express some degree of understanding and concern for each other, despite their disagreement – this is referred to as recognition. In transformative mediation, the mediator does not pretend to know the parties’ situation better than they themselves do and will not attempt to impose a settlement on them. Within this framework, the parties gain a clearer understanding of their situation and are better able to recognize each other’s perspective. Often, this leads to resolution of the dispute and greatly enhances the parties’ ability to communicate more effectively in the future.


Why does Lotane Mediation favor the transformative approach to mediation?


At Lotane Mediation, we feel that the transformative approach is most valuable in disputes where the parties will have an ongoing relationship after the mediation – such as in a divorce (especially when children are involved). In these situations, it is often not enough to merely “resolve” an individual dispute, since conflicts will inevitably arise again in the future. By helping the parties gain strength through empowerment and appreciate the views and feelings of the other party through recognition, the hope is that the relationship itself will be transformed, allowing the parties to deal with each other more effectively in the future when conflicts arise.


And at the other end of the spectrum: The Evaluative Approach to Mediation


Practitioners with an evaluative orientation are trained to emphasize settlement and move parties toward that goal. They are solution-oriented and are actively involved in defining both the problem and its solution – which can be very disempowering for the participants. Evaluative mediators tend to lead the process and draw the parties’ attention away from emotion and toward solution of the immediate conflict. Long-term effects upon the parties’ relationship are usually not an area of direct focus. Success for the evaluative mediator is usually defined as reaching agreement on the immediate conflict. We believe that the evaluative approach is ill-suited to situations where emotions may run high and where the parties will be required to have on-going contact after the mediation has concluded – for example, with co-parenting.


The evaluative approach is an archaic form of mediation modeled on settlement conferences held by judges – in fact, this is likely the style that will be practiced by former judges and many attorneys who have become mediators.


What are the advantages to Mediation?


Affordable – Usually, mediation costs considerably less than litigation.

Efficient - The mediation process can usually settle a dispute within a few sessions. Most mediations conclude or settle within thirty days from initiating the process.


Maintain of Control - Parties in mediation avoid the uncertainty and dissatisfaction often experienced in court or at arbitration where they have little choice but to accept the judgment made - a judgment which neither of them may be happy with.  Everything said at mediation is entirely confidential to the parties (unless specifically agreed otherwise).


Effective – Statistically, mediation settles over 85% of submitted disputes.


Non-binding - Nothing is binding upon any party in mediation until an agreed upon settlement is reached.  If a settlement is reached, the parties have the option to have a written settlement agreement prepared. 


Informal -The process of mediation is flexible and informal. It is not necessary to have an attorney represent you during the mediation process. However, some individuals feel more comfortable with attorney representation. Also, once agreement has been reached, the parties are free to have any agreement reviewed by an attorney prior to signing.


Empowering - Disputing parties are directly engaged in the negotiation of their settlement. Parties also enhance the likelihood of successfully maintaining ongoing relationships by utilizing mediation.​


Confidential - By agreement of the parties, information disclosed during mediation may not be divulged as evidence in any trial or judicial proceeding.


Voluntary - Mediation is voluntary.  Therefore, any party may withdraw from mediation at any time, for any reason.

Convenient - Mediation sessions are arranged to occur at our Kennebunk office or, if the parties desire, we can meet at any location agreed upon by them.



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