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Articles by and About
Pamela britton White:

Family-Centered Divorce

An Empowering Guide

Laying the Groundwork for Healthy Co-Parenting

Mediation Barriers

Alternative to Court

I'm in the Mood for Hate (Simply Because You're Near Me)

Peer-Recommended Professionals

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«About the Mediator

This letter first appeared in the Pasadena/Altadena Weekly, Nov 26 - Dec 2, 1987

Alternative to Court

To the Editor:

As a mediator practicing in the Pasadena/Eagle Rock area (and a trained attorney), I was struck by your cover story on the overcrowded courts ("Trials and Tribulations," Nov 5-11). The adversarial court system certainly serves a purpose, but it cannot, nor was it meant to, resolve every conflict or right every wrong. There are alternatives -- mediation is one of them. In the vast majority of disputes, whether court-bound or not, mediation is a swift and cost-effective means of conflict resolution.

Mediation is a voluntary negotiation process in which the disputing parties work together, with the help of a neutral mediator, to arrive at a fair resolution. The agreement isn't imposed by the mediator -- its content is determined by the parties. If no agreement is reached, the disputants can still seek out their day (or years) in court. Whatever transpires in mediation is confidential, and cannot later be used as evidence in a civil trial.

Obviously, mediation isn't for everyone. In some cases, the issues are simply not amenable to mediation. Or when "going for the jugular" is the primary motivation, mediation isn't likely to work. The goal is a fair agreement -- mutually satisfactory to all sides. This isn't achieved by straight compromise or splitting-the-difference, but rather by fashioning an agreement that addresses the underlying interests of all the parties. The disputants attack the problem -- not each other.

While used frequently in divorce, allowing the parties to devise their own agreement without doing battle in the adversary arena, mediation's application is much broader. In virtually any dispute, whether business or personal, mediation can be a useful alternative to acrimony or litigation. It's an empowering process that enables people to work out their difference in a fair-minded way. That can only be a healthy development in a world so fraught with posturing and discord.

~Pamela Britton White
Pasadena

 

 

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