Mediators generally refer to mediating “disputes” or “cases” because in most instances the parties are involved in some kind of dispute and litigation could even be pending. It may be that they disagree on the facts or how to apply the facts to a regulation. But in some situations, the parties may agree about both the facts and the law. They may even get along just fine, it’s just that one party has an obligation they cannot perform. It does not matter whether you call it a dispute or not, the important thing is that in many of these situations, mediation may be able to assist the parties reach a resolution and preserve the relationship.

For example, a producer may owe a feed or equipment dealer money. The parties may agree how much money is owed and how and when it is supposed to be paid back. But the producer may simply not have the money available to make the payments. The creditor may be patient for a while but at some point, the creditor may reach a breaking point and may turn the debt over to a collection agency or a lawyer.

When that happens the situation becomes more complicated. While mediation can still help resolve the debt at this stage (and in many instances we are called in at this point) the truth is that the issue would have been easier and less costly to resolve before credit agencies and lawyers are called in. Also, the decision to turn the matter over to an attorney or collection agency inevitably causes some amount of damage to an important business relationship.

The fact that the parties may have worked together well for many years may make them reluctant to reach out for professional assistance. Regardless whether the situation is volatile or at a standstill, the parties may be unsure how to proceed. Ignoring the debt does not solve anything. Communicating with the other party so that they understand your financial situation can lead to a solution that works for all sides.

HIAMP can help parties talk about their financial situation and help resolve these disputes by bringing in financial consultants that will review financial records and help the other party understand any cash flow problems. Then HIAMP can work with both parties to find a solution such as installment payment plan that is affordable to the producer and demonstrates to the creditor that the debt will be repaid. These mediations not only help put parties at ease about the debt but they preserve important business relationships.