Every case that is pending in court will, at some time or another, require mediation. Let’s first explain some basic differences among mediation, settlement facilitation and arbitration. People often use these terms interchangeably but they really do have different meanings.

Arbitration is a system whereby the parties undergo a trial with someone other than a judge making the decision. This person is the arbitrator and usually a retired judge or attorney. People use arbitration when they want quicker decisions. The drawback with arbitration is that it’s generally costly in that you have to pay the arbitrator.

Conversely, mediation is more of a touchy-feely approach. True mediation has both sides trying to come to a common ground. There is no decision maker like trial or arbitration. Instead, the parties use a mediator who simply tries to talk both sides into agreeing. Usually a mediator will not interject his/her opinion.

In most family cases, however, courts require settlement facilitation. Settlement facilitation is similar to mediation, but with one major difference. Settlement facilitators will push and interject their opinions. Thus, if one side is being stubborn the settlement facilitator will tell them the likelihood of success of their position based on the facilitator’s experience.

Most settlement facilitators are retired judges or currently practicing attorneys. Settlement facilitation is usually successful and can drastically reduce fees and costs. The downside is that if no agreement is reached then you essentially spent money with no positive outcome. However, you will learn the strengths and weaknesses of your case in facilitation. All judges in New Mexico will require family cases to go to settlement facilitation prior to final trial, absent some very extenuating circumstances.

The attorneys of the Justice Legal Group has extensive experience in mediating, arbitrating and settlement facilitation. In fact, our attorneys are often appointed as arbitrators, mediators and facilitators by the court and other parties to handle their cases. Thus, if you need help in preparing for mediation or facilitation contact us throughout New Mexico at 505-880-8737 or email us at

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