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Mediation
A way that parties can resolve their own dispute without going to court. In mediation, a neutral third party (the mediator) meets with the opposing sides to help them find a mutually satisfactory solution. Unlike a judge or an arbitrator, the mediator has no power to impose a solution -- instead, the mediator facilitates the parties' communication and helps to develop and reality-test possible solutions. No formal rules of evidence or procedure control mediation; the mediator and the parties usually agree on their own informal ways to proceed. Mediation is very commonly used in divorce cases, and is mandatory in some places when child custody is in dispute. Compare: arbitration, trial
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