You find yourself involved in a dispute over your property, and you want a resolution that will maintain and enforce your ownership rights. You’ve heard that many people choose mediation over litigation and you’re wondering if that’s the right option for your situation. While an attempt to negotiate is almost always a good first step, there are reasons why litigation may be necessary to obtain the outcome you want. To understand why, you first need a working knowledge of the difference between mediation and litigation.
Litigation v. Mediation
Litigation involves a formal trial in a courtroom to decide your property dispute. Your attorney and the opposing party present evidence and testimony before a judge or jury, which they then review to arrive at a decision. Mediation is a less formal process where both sides negotiate privately through a professional mediator to come to an agreement regarding your legal issue. Mediation does not always settle a dispute. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement, the situation is often escalated to trial. Both methods require you to retain a legal professional, either a lawyer or a mediator.
The option to go to trial over a property dispute is heavily determinant on your specific circumstances. What is the nature of the dispute? How costly is the issue? What is your relationship with the other party? These factors help to determine whether trial is the best way to achieve your goal. In the case of a property dispute that involves trespass, nuisance, encroachment, or title actions, you are fighting to protect and preserve your own property as well as your rights to your home or land. These are serious issues that need clear resolution. Additionally, these types of “neighborhood disputes” can often be quite contentious, if not downright nasty. Some escalate quickly and become a threat to more than just your property. In light of all of this, litigation is typically the preferred method of dealing with these serious legal conflicts.
- Animosity – If you are already heavily involved in an ongoing volatile situation over use of your real property or clear ownership rights, the ability to sit down together and resolve things amicably is low, if not nil.
- Negotiation – Mediation requires a desire on both sides to negotiate in order to come to an agreement that works for both parties. Frankly, if it’s your property and you don’t want someone else trespassing, encroaching on it and using it for their own purposes, negotiation isn’t your real goal.
- Resolution – Mediation doesn’t deliver a final order. Both parties must agree to every aspect of the negotiation. Because asserting and enforcing your rights is the objective in your property dispute, that is best obtained by an order from a court of law.
- Representation – Though you pay a mediator, she doesn’t work on your behalf or represent your interests in any way. Her role is to be impartial. In litigation, your attorney represents you and your bests interests from start to finish.
If you are involved in a real estate property dispute in California, the Buffington Law Firm, PC has a number of skilled litigators who can assist you.