In mediation, the disputing parties work with a neutral third party, the mediator, to resolve their disputes. The mediator facilitates the resolution of the parties' disputes by supervising the exchange of information and the bargaining process. The mediator helps the parties find common ground and deal with unrealistic expectations. He or she may also offer creative solutions and assist in drafting a final settlement. The role of the mediator is to interpret concerns, relay information between the parties, frame issues, and define the problems.
Although mediation is a voluntary process, a judge may sometimes order parties to participate in mediation. Mediation is common in small claims courts, housing courts, family courts, and some criminal court programs and neighborhood justice centers.
The mediation process is generally considered more prompt, inexpensive, and procedurally simple than formal litigation. It allows the parties to focus on the underlying circumstances that contributed to the dispute, rather than on narrow legal issues. The mediation process does not focus on truth or fault. Questions of which party is right or wrong are generally less important than the issue of how the problem can be resolved.
If parties reach a resolution during mediation, the mediation agreement will be reduced to writing; the content varies with the type of case or subject matter. In a court-ordered mediation, the written agreement becomes a legally binding court-order, once submitted to the Judge; and, is filed with the Court. If an agreement is not reached, the parties will ultimately go back to the Judge, who will make the final decisions, based on the law and facts of the case. The Judge’s decision will not be influenced by what took place in mediation, as everything discussed in mediation is protected by rules of confidentiality.
Small Claims Cases
For Small Claims cases (SC cases, $8,000 or less), there is no charge to the litigants for mediations held during pretrial sessions/hearings. Mediation is provided/offered for every Small Claims case during pre-trial session/hearing. No appointments need to be made or actions need to be taken by parties to arrange this type of mediation. On occasion, Small Claims cases are referred to mediation by a Judge; this is divergent from the above stated mediation type. If the mediation is not to happen during the pretrial session/hearing, there will be a cost to parties. Parties have the option to use/hire a private mediator, or may choose to use the Court’s ADR Office to schedule a mediation with a Court Appointed Mediator. The cost of a Court Appointed Mediator is $60 per party, per mediation session (up to 2 hours). In order to use the Court Program for mediation, litigants can reach out to the Mediation Services Coordinator by email CAD-MediationRef@pbcgov.org, or phone (561) 355-6298.
County Civil Cases
For County Civil cases (CC cases, between $8,000-$15,000), most cases will be referred to mediation by the assigned Judge. Parties may use/hire a private mediator, or may choose to use the Court’s ADR Office to schedule a mediation with a Court Appointed Mediator. The cost of a Court Appointed Mediator is $60 per party, per mediation session (up to 2 hours). In order to use the Court Program for mediation, litigants can reach out to the Mediation Services Coordinator by email CAD-MediationRef@pbcgov.org, or phone (561) 355-6298.
If you are scheduled for a mediation, and are not fluent in English, you must provide your own Interpreter/Translator.
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Helpful Documents & Forms
|15th Circuit Arbitrators List - 2018|
|Mediation Scheduling Form|
|Preparation for Mediation Checklist|
|Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status|