Mediation is a process during which a trained mediator acts as a neutral third party and facilitates settlement discussions between individuals in conflict. The mediator has no authority to make a decision or impose a settlement upon the parties. The mediator attempts to focus the attention of the parties upon their needs and interests rather than upon rights and positions.
Although in court-annexed or court-referred mediation programs the parties may be ordered to attend a mediation session, any settlement is entirely voluntary. In the absence of settlement, the parties retain their right to take their conflict before a judge or jury.