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Arbitration & Mediation

Arbitration - Columbia County Supplemental Local Rule Chapter 13

Once a case is determined to be arbitration eligible, the court sends the parties a proposed list of available arbitrators. The parties then have 14 days to select an arbitrator. If the parties do not agree on the selection, the court will assign the arbitrator. (UTCR 13.080). The parties may also stipulate to an arbitrator of their choice.
Once the arbitrator is appointed, the arbitrator will be notified by the court. The arbitrator sets the time, date, and place of the hearing and must give reasonable notice of the hearing date to the parties and comply with ORS 36.420. The arbitrator must also give notice of the hearing date, as well as any continuances, to the court. Except for good cause shown, the hearing must be scheduled to take place more than 14 day, but no later than 49 days from the date of assignment of the case to the arbitrator. (UTCR 13.160)
The parties must pay the arbitrator a fee to participate in arbitration. (UTCR 13.120) This fee is set by the Court’s Arbitration Commission.
Although the arbitration hearing may be more informal than a court proceeding, the arbitrator is required to have witnesses sworn to testimony, and allow the parties or their lawyers to ask questions and introduce evidence. The arbitrator may ask questions of the witnesses or require the parties or their lawyers to submit other evidence after the hearing.
An arbitrator must issue a decision within 14 or 21 days. (UTCR 13.220)
If the decision of the arbitrator is not accepted by one of the parties, the case can go back before a judge or jury for decision. An appeal of the arbitration award must be done within 20 days, following all the provisions of UTCR 13.250 and ORS 36.425. The case then goes to a new trial (trial de novo). The judge or jury deciding the case does not know what the arbitrator decided. The party who ultimately loses the case may still be required to pay the other party’s share of the arbitration fees. It the appealing party does not get a better result from a jury or trial judge, that party will lose the appeal fee paid.

Who are the arbitrators?

Court-connected arbitrators have applied to the court and have been approved to be on the arbitrator’s list. (UTCR 13.090)

​Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary process wherein an impartial third person assists parties to discuss their perspectives of a dispute. The mediator does not give legal advice or make a decision for the parties. Instead, the parties are responsible for the decisions and the mediator’s role is to help the parties identify their concerns and to formulate a resolution which is mutually satisfactory.

What are the benefits of Mediation?

Parties have more control and flexibility over the agreement and its terms. Mediation is private and informal. Parties report high satisfaction and statistics show that parties are more likely to perform the terms of a mediated agreement than terms of a court judgment.​​

​Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a process similar to a trial in which the decision is made by an arbitrator instead of a Circuit Court Judge. Like a judge, an arbitrator makes rulings on motions, decides the order in which witnesses appear and the testimony they give, and may impose penalties on a party who disobeys the arbitrator’s orders. Like a judge or a jury, an arbitrator decides which side wins and what the result will be.

What kinds of cases go into arbitration?

In accordance with ORS 36.400 to 36.425 and Uniform Trial Rule Chapter 13, there are two kinds of cases which to into arbitration:
Civil cases - a case must go into court-mandated arbitration if the amount of money requested is less than $50,000.
Domestic Relations cases – if the only contested issue is the division or other disposition of property between the parties.

​Small Claims Mediation – Columbia County Supplemental Rule 12.061

Mediation in small claims cases is mandatory. Parties will be notified by mail of the date they are to appear for mediation. Any counterclaims will be heard at the same time.
You should read the complete text SLR 12.061 to fully understand what is required under this Rule.

Mandatory Mediation - Columbia County Supplemental Rule 12.001

Any dispute involving custody and/or visitation and/or parenting time will be subject to mandatory mediation. All parties are required to participate in mediation in effort to resolve issues of custody and visitation before a court hearing is held. Parties who work together to reach a solution for child custody and parenting time issues are more likely to honor the agreement and work cooperatively within the agreement.
You should read the complete text SLR 12.001 to fully understand what is required under this Rule.

Mediation Orientation – Columbia County Supplemental Rule 12.021

Parties will be given the opportunity to choose a mediator from those on the court-approved mediator list at orientation and/or consult with their counsel and report their choice of mediator to the court within fourteen (14) days. If the parties are unable to agree upon a mediator within fourteen (14) days, the court will appoint a mediator and notify the parties of the appointment.
Mediation will consist of an orientation session and a maximum of eight hours involving the parties and the mediator. The parties are required to view the mediation orientation video online by 5:00 P.M. on the date given in the mediation notice.

Required Parenting Class – Columbia County Supplemental Rule 8.012

All parties are required to complete the Education for Divorcing Parents Class Program prior to attending mediation sessions and the initial pre-trial conference.


Effective August 1, 2022, mediator qualifications formerly housed in Chief Justice Order (CJO) No. 05-028 were moved into UTCR chapter 12. Guidelines implementing can be found in the OJD Rules Center​, under “Court-Connected Mediator Qualifications.


​Small Claims Mediator Application​

Domestic Relations Mediator Application​​