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Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the term commonly used to describe a variety of options other than litigation, such as arbitration and mediation. Mediation is a process that provides an opportunity for people in conflict to reach a mutually satisfying resolution with the help of a neutral third party. Finding solutions is the focus of mediation. Arbitration is a process of dispute resoluation in which a neutral third party (the arbitrator) renders a decision after a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard. After both sides have presented their case, the arbitrator will make a decision and an award.

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Mediation for Small Claims Cases

When the defendant in a small claims case responds within 14 days after being served with the claim, the court will set a hearing date and notify the parties of that date by mail. On the scheduled court date the parties will be referred to a mediator to assist the parties to attempt to settle their case. If the parties reach an agreement, the agreement is presented to the judge for approval. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, a judge hears the case after the mediation session.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding Small Claims Mediation


Mediation for Family Court Cases

The Family Mediation Program provides mediation to parents who have a current legal action in Lane County concerning final custody and/or parenting time (visitation). The court will not issue a final decree for any contested custody or parenting time issue unless it has proceeded through mediation. One or both parents, or their attorneys, may initiate mediation by filing a request for mediation. The request form and instructions may be obtained from a court clerk, an attorney, or the Family Mediation Program.

The mediation program offers one or more private sessions with a trained, professional mediator. In mediation, parents have an opportunity to discuss the needs of their children and evaluate options for a satisfactory parental agreement. Agreements reached in mediation are prepared in writing by the mediator, but are considered tentative until reviewed by each parent and an attorney. If an agreement is not reached, the case may be resolved through other means, or in court if necessary.


Arbitration for Civil and Domestic Relations Cases

Arbitration is a mandatory program for some types of cases in Lane County that requires parties to attempt to resolve their dispute without going before a judge. Cases that go through arbitration are usually resolved more quickly and less expensively than cases that go to trial. State law requires that courts establish arbitration programs for certain cases. The arbitrator has subject-matter expertise, presides over the case presentation, and issues a non-binding or binding opinion subject to limited right of court review.

Cases that are subject to mandatory arbitration in Lane County are:

  • Civil action cases (lawsuits) are subject to arbitration if the amount of the controversy is less than $50,000. Arbitration is not required for cases involving an appeal from a county, justice, or municipal court, or small claims actions of a circuit court.
  • Domestic Relations cases (dissolution/divorce, annulment, or separation) are subject to arbitration if the only contested issue is the division or disposition of property. Child or spousal support issues are not subject to arbitration
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding Civil and Domestic Relations Arbitration


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