How Do You Want to Resolve Your Dispute? You Have Options.

People often go to court expecting a judge or jury to decide everything, and while courts offer those options, there may be better options available, too. Courts often offer processes for parties to solve their disputes outside of the courtroom. Informal dispute resolution processes can save time and costs. Common types of dispute resolution processes for civil cases are settlement conferences, mediation, early neutral evaluation, and arbitration. In divorce or family law cases, a common dispute resolution option also is collaborative law. Below is information on several dispute resolution processes. Some processes may not be appropriate for every situation, and each case is unique. Check with the court where your case is pending to learn about the specific dispute resolution processes available.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS

If you need a lawyer to represent you at a mediation, but don't think you can afford one, watch this video on Limited Scope Representation.

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Limited Scope Representation (2:35)

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DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS

Settlement Conference
A dispute resolution process where the opposing parties of a lawsuit meet in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to their dispute without having to proceed to a trial. The process is conducted by a settlement judge who will recommend possibilities for settlement.

Cases that may be appropriate:

  • When parties wish to remain private
  • When parties have not explored settlement options and need assistance from a settlement judge
  • Time or cost sensitive matters

Cases that may not be appropriate:

  • When the parties are adversarial and unwilling to commit to the process
  • When a client’s representative does not have full settlement authority

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Introduction to Settlement Conferences (1:29)

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A Settlement Conference (5:02)

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DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS

Mediation
A dispute resolution process in which a mediator facilitates communication and negotiation between parties to assist them in reaching a voluntary agreement regarding their dispute. See ORC 2710.01(A).

Cases that may be appropriate:

  • When parties are familiar with each other
  • When each party is able to advocate for themselves
  • Time or cost sensitive matters

Cases that are not appropriate:

  • When either party is unwilling or unable to advocate for themselves
  • The relationship between the parties is acrimonious or when either party requires protection from the court

Mediation Styles

Evaluative mediation:

  • A process in which a third party neutral (the mediator) uses a directive approach to move the parties toward settlement. To achieve this aim, the mediator may adopt a variety of techniques, such as urging the parties to accept settlement, proposing or developing an agreement for the parties to accept, predicting adjudication outcome or the impact of not settling in terms of parties’ interests, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ respective legal case or evaluating parties’ options in light of their interests.

Facilitative mediation:

  • A non-evaluative process in which a third party neutral (the mediator) assists disputing parties by facilitating settlement negotiations, and, perhaps, improving the parties’ relationship or ability to communicate. In this form of mediation, the mediator elicits the parties’ perspectives, their sense of meaning and their solutions. The mediator may use reality-testing techniques to help the parties understand their interests or the strengths and weaknesses of their legal case, assist them to evaluate proposals, generate options that respond to their interest or develop and exchange proposals.

Transformative mediation:

  • A process in which a third party neutral (the mediator) aims to empower the parties to more effectively communicate in order to resolve disputes and improve their relationship.

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Benefits of Mediation? (1:45)

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Mediation Styles (Transformative, Facilitative, Evaluative) (3:07)

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Comparing Mediation Styles (5:29)

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Qualities of an Effective Mediator (1:06)

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DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS

Neutral Evaluation
A non-binding dispute resolution process usually conducted early in litigation in which a third party neutral conducts a session with the parties and their counsel to hear both sides of the dispute and offer a non-binding assessment of the case. If the parties also agree or the applicable rules so provide, the third party neutral may also help with case planning by clarifying arguments and issues, and may even mediate settlement discussions.

Cases that may be appropriate:

  • A technical case with specialized subject matter
  • Cases that have difficult evidentiary issues or hard-to-prove damages
  • When opposing parties have widely contrasting views of the law/value of the case

Cases that may not be appropriate:

  • When the parties are adversarial and unwilling to commit to the process
  • A case that is too complex to be broken down into single issues

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Introduction to Neutral Evaluation (2:02)

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Neutral Evaluation example in a property damage case, following the presentation of evidence (4:53)

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DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS

Arbitration
A dispute resolution process in which the parties to a dispute present arguments and evidence to a third party neutral or a panel of neutrals (the arbitrators) who make a determination (the award) that can be either binding or non-binding. Appeals of arbitration awards can be limited by statute.

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DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS

Collaborative Law (pre- and post-divorce)
A dispute resolution process for parties going through divorce to settle disputes outside the courtroom. The parties retain separate attorneys who help their clients create a contractual agreement regarding the terms of their divorce. If an agreement cannot be reached, the parties can then file a lawsuit and take their dispute to court.

Cases that may be appropriate:

  • A time or cost sensitive divorce
  • When the parties are willing to work together to reach a resolution

Cases that are not appropriate:

  • When substances abuse, domestic violence, or a mental disorder is involved
  • When either party is unwilling or unable to advocate for themselves

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Collaborative Law Pre-Divorce (10:06)

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Collaborative Law Post-Divorce (8:52)

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