Alternatives to Court - About Mediation


What is mediation?
Mediation is a way of solving problems without going to court. The people who have a disagreement meet with a trained mediator to try to make an agreement.

What happens in mediation?
The mediator works with the people who have a disagreement to:

  • Identify important issues,
  • Clarify misunderstandings,
  • Explore solutions, and
  • Come up with a settlement that all sides can accept.

What does the mediator do?
The mediator explains the rules of the mediation. The mediator helps all sides in the dispute explain their point of view, but will not take sides.

The mediator will ask each side to summarize his or her point of view. S/he will guide the people who have a disagreement to find a solution themselves. The mediator will work with each person until there is an agreement that is acceptable to everyone.

Is the mediator a judge?
No. The mediator is not a judge, and will not decide how your disagreement should be solved.

Can my lawyer go to mediation with me?
If you have a lawyer, s/he may go with you to mediation, if you want.

Can I meet with the mediator alone?
The mediator will meet with everyone together. But s/he may also meet with each side separately. Doing this gives each side a chance to tell the mediator what they really want. It also gives each side the chance to express anger or frustrations without the other side being there.

What happens after we make an agreement?
The agreement is put in writing. The people involved must sign it, after getting advice from their lawyer (if they have one).

Supreme Court Rule 31

The Supreme Court made Supreme Court Rule 31 in January 1996. The rule gives everyone in the state a way to solve disagreements without going to court.

Rule 31 created a system where litigants, courts, and lawyers can find and use qualified mediators and other neutrals to solve cases before going to court. With the system in place, mediators and neutrals would be available when needed.

Rule 31 does not affect dispute resolution programs or individual cases that are settled without using the Rule 31 system. Any case can use mediation, arbitration, or other form of dispute resolution without using the Rule 31 process.

How to Find a Mediation Center

Some counties have community mediation centers that offer free or reduced free mediation services to people who cannot afford to pay a mediator. Some of these centers receive grants from the Administrative Office of the Courts.

The AOC website can help you find a mediation center and other organizations that provide mediation. Click on your county name on this map or list to find more information.

Other Mediation Resources

Important! Court employees are not allowed to make referrals to lawyers, do legal research, or give legal advice.