Community Dispute Resolution Program
Mediation In Your Municipality
The Community Dispute Resolution Program utilizes trained volunteers to help resolve disputes. Mediation is often the preferred option for disputes that involve people in ongoing relationships such as neighbors, friends, relatives and co-workers. Not all complaints can be referred to mediation. Complaints involving allegations of child abuse or domestic violence cannot be mediated. Motor vehicle matters and indictable offenses cannot be mediated. Also, a case cannot be referred to mediation when the police have already made an arrest.
Why Should I Try Mediation?
Mediation is a structured and confidential form of negotiation that provides you with a convenient, fair and effective way to resolve disputes. The mediator encourages discussions between the parties to help them reach an agreement they can both accept. The result may benefit all of the parties and provide a win-win solution; and mediation can be less expensive, more relaxed and a more meaningful alternative to the traditional trial process.
What Are The Costs?
Mediation is free. There are no court costs and there is no payment to the mediators.
Who Are The Mediators?
Mediators are concerned members of the community who have volunteered their time and talents to provide a free, effective, and timely method for settling disputes. They are required to complete an intensive training course and to participate in ongoing educational activities. All mediators must be approved by the N.J. Superior Court.
How Does Mediation Work?
In order to maximize the likelihood of success, it is important that both parties cooperate with the mediator and understand some basic ground rules. Specifically, the following points are important:
- Mediators do not decide who is right or wrong. They faciliate a discussion between the parties.
- The parties are expected to negotiate in GOOD FAITH. Both sides will be committed to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.
- Each side will be given an equal chance to talk, but only one person may speak at a time.
- Name calling, foul language, rowdy behavior, and threats will not be tolerated.
- Only individuals directly involved in the dispute are allowed to be present at mediation sessions.
- Mediators are prohibited from discussing the dispute with anyone not directly involved.
- Although not required for the purposes of mediation, evidence (e.g. receipts or photographs) may be submitted and witnesses may appear so long as they contribute relevant information. It is the disputants responsibility to arrange for the appearance of any witnesses.
- Attorneys may attend mediation sessions in an advisory capacity, but they are not allowed to actively participate.
- Mediation sessions are confidential. Disclosures and proposals made in an effort to resolve disputes cannot be used in any subsequent court proceedings concerning the matter.
If an agreement is reached, the mediator will put it in writing. Each party will sign the agreement and receive a copy. If an agreement is subsequently broken, the complaining party may wish to pursue a formal action in Municipal Court. If no agreement is reached, all parties will be scheduled to appear in Municipal Court where the matter will be heard by the Judge.