The Community Dispute Resolution Program utilizes trained volunteers from the community to mediate minor disputes and may be a helpful way to resolve your problem without relying on the Court. Mediation is often the preferred option for cases that involve people with ongoing relationships such as neighbors, friends, relatives, coworkers and others. Mediation is available to every resident of this community. The Judge or Court Administrator refers cases to the mediator. A referral to mediation can be requested.
WHAT IS MEDIATION?
Mediation is a structured and confidential form of negotiation which gives you control of the outcome in your case. Negotiation is something you do every day with coworkers, neighbors, and family to reach agreements about all types of issues.
In court, you do not decide what happens in your case. The judge, following the law and the strict rules of the court, makes a decision. In mediation, you and the other people in the case negotiate a solution to the conflict.
YOUR ROLE IN MEDIATION
You take an active role in the mediation process. You and the other people directly involved in the problem meet with a panel of trained mediators. The mediators are neutrals who listen impartially to what everyone has to say.
The mediators do not take sides and do not make decisions or judgments about right or wrong. The panel of mediators is there to help you discuss your needs and differences, and to seek areas of agreement.
THE GROUND RULES
In order to have a productive exchange of information it is required that you cooperate with the mediator during the session. You and the other party must listen carefully to each other. The list of ground rules you will be expected to follow during the mediation session include:
- Only one person may speak at a time.
- Each person will be given a chance to give their explanation of what has happened without interruption. If you feel the need to interrupt while the other person is talking, simply write your thoughts down on the paper provided and you will be given a chance to speak later.
- The use of name calling, profanity or threats is absolutely prohibited.
- All things said during the mediation session are confidential. The mediator and the people involved may not discuss the details of the mediation session with others.
The mediator may need to speak with each person separately. These meetings may be helpful in attempting to solve the problems that you and the other people are facing. Anything said during this private meeting or caucus is confidential unless you agree that the information may be shared with the other party.
Once all persons involved in the problem come to an agreement, the mediator will put it in writing and everyone will sign it and receive a copy. The mediators will specify in the agreement that the matter will be held open for a period of 15, 30 or a maximum 60 days.
If there is a breach of the agreement during that time it should be reported to the Court Administrator, who will explain how you should proceed.
IF NO AGREEMENT IS REACHED OR THE AGREEMENT REACHED IS BROKEN
If the case was court referred, the mediator will return it to the court for further formal proceedings. If the agreement is broken you may contact the Court Administrator to determine what further action should be taken. If you have not gone to court, you may wish to file a complaint with the Court Administrator. The mediator can answer your questions about that next step.