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How to Hire a Mediator

George Simons | July 21, 2022

Mediators^^

Summary: Getting sued for debt and afraid to go to court? Here's' SoloSuit's guide on everything you need to know about mediation and how to hire a mediator.

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance

When you can no longer pay your debt, you may hire a mediator to negotiate with the creditor on your behalf. However, knowing the difference between a good and average mediator could impact the result of the negotiations. For this reason, we'll discuss everything you need to know about hiring a mediator.

Most people opt to work with attorneys with vast experience in debt negotiations. However, some debt collection companies may hire attorneys to portray a legitimate image to their clients. But the truth is, in some debt mediation companies, attorneys are never involved in the mediation process.

This is usually a public relations tactic that works most of the time. So before you decide to trust a debt mediation company with the mediation process, you may want to find out more about their attorneys' role in the entire process.

Secondly, you want a debt mediator with vast experience in dealing with creditors. The last thing you want is a mediator who'll put you in a worse financial situation than you're currently in.

The debt mediator's reputation also matters. For this reason, look up their online reviews to find out what other consumers think about them.

Hire a good mediator

Mediators should be comfortable with conflict and experienced in conflict resolution. To ensure you have the best chance at reaching an agreement, here are some tip for selecting the best mediator for your case:

  • Don't hire an attorney or judge: Lawyers and judges can be pretty stuck in their ways. Finding an experienced mediator is a great alternative, because they will approach the settlement process with a fresh perspective.
  • Find someone who easily connects with you: If you don't get along with the mediator, chances are you won't get very far in coming to an agreement. You should have good chemistry with your mediator to avoid any bias during the mediation process.
  • Mediators should be excellent communicators: Coming to an agreement can take hours, and it's important that both sides are heard. Finding a mediator who can effectively communicate each party's perspective can make all the difference.
  • Find someone who is truly a neutral third party: Avoid hiring a mediator that is connected, in any way, to the opposing party. Doing so can lead to biased discussions and decision making.

What happens during debt mediation?

During debt mediation, the mediator helps the creditor and debtor reach an agreement about the debt in question. A mediator is usually a neutral party. They don't care who is right or wrong—all they need is to have both parties reach an agreement about the debt.

During the mediation process, the mediator, consumer, and the debt collection representative each get a chance to argue their case. The debt collection representative, usually an attorney, will disclose the amount owed. They may also prove that the consumer owes them the amount in question.

The mediator may decide to hold the meeting with the two parties simultaneously or separately and confidentially. This usually depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. The primary goal of the entire process is to convince both parties to agree to a settlement.

Once the settlement agreement has been reached, the mediator will draft a document stating the terms of the agreement. Next, both parties will confirm that they've agreed to the terms stated in the agreement. This agreement is usually legally binding.

Is mediation the same as arbitration?

The terms mediation and arbitration are often used interchangeably, but they are worlds apart in legal settings. However, this doesn't mean that the two terms don't share some similarities. In fact, one common similarity between mediation and arbitration is that they bring both parties together.

But at the end of the day, mediation is not the same as arbitration. To understand the difference between these two terms, let's look at how each process works.

How mediation works

In mediation, the two parties have complete control over the process. For example, they can decide when and where they'd like to meet to negotiate the debt, the rules of the meeting, who should attend the meeting, etc.

Mediation is usually conducted in a less intimidating setting than a courtroom. Additionally, the negotiations are tailored towards the needs of the parties involved. For instance, as the consumer, mediation allows you to negotiate a payment plan that suits your income, pay schedule, financial responsibilities, etc.

Most importantly, mediators don't make decisions or rulings. Instead, their goal is to ensure both parties reach an agreement and at their own will. If they fail to agree, the case will be sent back to court.

How arbitration works

Like a mediator, an arbitrator brings both parties together to solve a particular problem, usually outside the court. However, an arbitrator has more authority over the proceedings in this setting.

The arbitrator often serves as a private judge. For this reason, they can listen to evidence, make rulings, and control the entire process. The arbitrator's ruling is usually final and binding on both sides. In addition, the chances of negotiating a ruling made during arbitration are usually slim.

When should I hire a debt mediator?

Not every difficult situation requires a debt mediator. For example, if you've fallen back on your payment for a few days or weeks, you don't necessarily need a debt mediator.

A debt mediator comes in when you've not paid a debt for more than 90 days. In fact, most creditors will wait up to 180 days to file a debt collection lawsuit against you.

Some creditors or debt collectors can also practice various tactics hoping to have you pay the amount you allegedly owe. Some of these tactics may violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Legally, a debt collector or creditor cannot;

  • contact you before 8 am and after 9 pm;
  • contact you at your workplace if your employer doesn't allow such contact;
  • keep contacting you if you inform them in writing to stop;
  • threaten you with jail-term if you don't pay the amount you supposedly owe;
  • use offensive language when pursuing the debt;
  • threaten you with violence or use force against you;
  • misrepresent themselves to have you pay the outstanding debt; or
  • lie about the debt.

You can report a debt collector to your state if they violate these laws. Alternatively, you can file a complaint against them through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Keep in mind that filing a complaint against a debt collector or creditor doesn't mean that you no longer owe the debt, that is, if it's valid.

The bottom line

Debt mediation can save your time, money, and energy if you've been sued over a debt. Most creditors would rather settle with you out of court than proceed with the complex, expensive, and exhausting process of recovering the debt through court.

In addition, mediators are neutral third parties whose only job is to help the parties involved reach an agreement. One great benefit of having a neutral third party in debt negotiation is that they can communicate with the debt collector or creditor on your behalf.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

Respond with SoloSuit

"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James


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