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Court Ordered Mediation FAQ
WHAT IS MEDIATION? Mediation is a voluntary and confidential way to resolve disputes in which the parties meet with a neutral third party (the mediator) to discuss settlement options. The mediator helps the parties identify the real issues in the dispute and develop solutions for resolving those issues. The mediator does not impose a decision upon the parties. If the parties cannot reach agreement they are free to continue the litigation process.
WHAT AUTHORITY DOES THE COURT HAVE TO ORDER A CASE TO MEDIATION? Arkansas Code Annotated §16-7-202(b) authorizes the circuit and appellate courts to order any civil, probate, domestic relations, or juvenile case to mediation.
HOW IS THE MEDIATOR SELECTED? The parties, usually with the assistance of their attorneys, select a mediator certified by the Arkansas Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission. If the parties wish to use a mediator who is not certified, they must obtain permission from the court. Mediators who are not certified by the ADR Commission are not subject to the Commission’s ethical rules or disciplinary process. Therefore, parties using a mediator who is not certified have no recourse through the Commission if they believe the mediator has behaved unethically.
WHAT ARE THE MEDIATOR'S QUALIFICATIONS? To be certified, a mediator must meet specific education, training, practical experience, and ethics standards. The standards vary depending on the category of certification. The categories of certification correspond to the divisions of the circuit court: civil certification, probate certification, domestic relations certification, and juvenile certification. Because court ordered mediation does not occur in the criminal division, there is no certification in this area. The standards are available online at the Alternative Dispute Resolution website.
WHERE DO I FIND A LIST OF QUALIFIED MEDIATORS? A roster of certified mediators is maintained by the Arkansas Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission. A list of mediators has been provided for you on the AV Roster page under the Parents tab located in the navigation bar at the top of this page. The roster may be also obtained by contacting the ADR Commission's office at (501) 682-9400, or online at the Alternative Dispute Resolution website.
WHO PAYS FOR MEDIATION? Generally, the parties equally divide the cost of the mediation, however costs may be divided in any way the parties or court deem appropriate. There are mediation programs available that provide mediation services at reduced rates. Currently, funds are available through the Access & Visitation Mediation Program to pay part or all of the mediation costs for cases involving custody, visitation, and child support. There are also funds available to pay for juvenile delinquency, Family in Need of Services, and dependency-neglect cases. Contact the Arkansas Youth Mediation Project at the UALR Bowen School of Law Mediation Clinic for more information. Additionally, certain types of appellate cases are eligible for mediation at no cost through the Arkansas Supreme Court Appellate Mediation Program.
WHAT IF THE MEDIATION IS NOT SUCCESSFUL? If the mediation is not successful, the parties continue with the case as if the mediation had not occurred.
WHAT IF THE MEDIATION IS SUCCESSFUL? If the mediation is successful, there is usually a written memorandum of understanding memorializing the details of the agreement. The case is concluded in the manner in which the parties agree. For example, the parties may agree to dismiss the case or the agreement may be entered as an agreed order by the court. In cases where the court maintains jurisdiction (child custody cases and other juvenile cases), the agreement is submitted to the court for review. If the court approves the agreement, it is typically entered as a court order.
WHAT CAN THE MEDIATOR TELL THE COURT ABOUT THE CASE? Arkansas Code Annotated §16-7-207 makes mediation confidential, so the mediator cannot share mediation communications with the court. The exception to this rule occurs when the confidentiality law conflicts with other legal requirements for disclosure of the communications. If that is the case, the court will make a determination, in camera, whether or not the communications are subject to disclosure.
Additionally, under the Requirements for the Conduct of Mediation and Mediators the mediator is prohibited from providing an assessment, evaluation, recommendation, finding, or other communication regarding the mediation to the court.
The mediator may file a “mediator’s report” with the court stating 1) whether or not the mediation occurred or has terminated; 2) whether a settlement was reached; and 3) who attended the mediation.
WHAT IF I HAVE A COMPLAINT ABOUT THE MEDIATOR? If you want to make a complaint against a certified mediator, contact the Arkansas Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission. Complaints must be submitted in writing to: Arkansas ADR Commission Attn: Coordinator 625 Marshall Street Little Rock, AR 72201
If you have any questions, you may call the office at (501) 682-9400.
Arkansas ADR commission
625 Marshall Street Little Rock, AR 72201 Phone: (501) 682-9400 Fax: (501) 682-9410