Mediation is the process by which two or more people in conflict meet with a mediator who assists them in a dialogue about the dispute and its possible solutions. Litigation can sometimes be a very emotional process and courts are generally not equipped to deal with the emotions of the parties. On the contrary, mediation is much better equipped to resolve the legal and emotional conflicts of litigation. From the community to the litigation level, mediation has boomed enormously in the United States and has become one of the favorite alternative mechanisms for dispute resolution.
With a few exceptions, the mediation process is conducted as follows: First, the mediator explains the process and guidelines to follow. Each party then takes turns explaining its point of view, complaint and goals. The mediator helps them clarify their positions, their interests and the points to discuss and later seeks to generate options and solutions to optimally conclude with an agreement, preferably in writing. The mediator doesn't take sides nor makes decisions. It is the parties to the dispute who have control over the decisions and if they do not reach an agreement they can continue the litigation process in court.
Most courts in Texas and many states order the parties to go to mediation before they have a trial. Sometimes the parties don't want to go to mediation because they're very angry or don't trust the other party or the other party's lawyer. But mediation is almost always advisable as it usually has very good and favorable results. Of course, it always helps if the parties make the effort to try to resolve the points of contention.
Mediation is generally more effective than the courts as it can resolve issues, disagreements and points of contention in a more confidential, faster, and informal manner than the courts. Mediation also gives the parties more control over the process and outcome of the case, and consequently, more satisfaction.