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Owning a business can be stressful, even when things are running smoothly. When disagreements arise, it can disrupt the company's ability to function and ultimately hurt the bottom line. Solving business disagreements quickly is in your company's best interests. If the dispute has long festered, it may seem like the time to pursue a lawsuit. However, lawsuits can take years, and a lawsuit certainly will not improve your relationship with a business partner.

Luckily, there is another option that may keep you out of court, save time and money, and potentially preserve your relationship with the other party.

Mediation is another option

Mediation offers an alternative to pursuing a lawsuit over a business dispute. It involves meeting with a neutral third party who works to settle with the disputing parties. The mediator facilitates a discussion process that hopefully leads to a compromise that works for both parties. Their role is not to be a judge, but to help each party be empathetic toward one another and to bridge your differences.

Benefits of mediation

Mediation usually moves much faster than a lawsuit. Some mediations last only a day, but even more complex mediations may not continue more than a few weeks or months. Usually, you meet with the mediator separately to share your side of the story, and then you get together to work with the mediator.

Taking someone to court can be an expensive process. You have to pay your lawyer's fees and may need to pay for expert witnesses. You likely will need to take time away from your business as well. A mediation usually moves quicker, so it saves you money that way. It also saves you hiring any other parties to support your case and possibly a lawyer.

If you are concerned about your dispute becoming public knowledge, mediation may be your best option. Court records are available to the public. Mediation is usually confidential so that it may protect you and your business from public scrutiny.

Perhaps you want to maintain your business relationship with the disputing party. If you pursue a lawsuit, you could be tied up in years of litigation that pits you against one another. This may ruin your relationship. Participating in mediation is a much different process. You work together to come to a compromise. No one is viewed as the winner or loser. It is a much less adversarial process.

If you and a business associate have reached an impasse, it may be time to bring in another party to handle your dispute. Mediation can save you time and money, protect the reputation of your business, and could save your relationship with the other party. You can hire a mediator that works exclusively as a mediator or a lawyer that offers mediation services. Some attorneys even specialize in handling mediation for businesses.

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