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Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)


ADR is a process offered by the court and others to help people resolve their disputes without going to trial. By using ADR you may not have to file a lawsuit, or if you do file a lawsuit, you may be able to avoid a trial. ADR is usually less formal, less expensive, and less time-consuming than a trial and may also give the parties more control over when and how their dispute is resolved. It provides opportunities for litigants to reach an agreement using a problem-solving approach rather than the more adversarial approach of litigation. ADR can also be advantageous when the parties have a relationship to preserve, such as business partners, landlord/tenant, and family relationships. ADR can help the parties find win-win solutions that may increase the parties' overall satisfaction with both the dispute resolution process and the outcome.

The most commonly used ADR processes in civil cases are mediation, and arbitration, and Discovery Facilitation.

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In mediation, a neutral person called a "mediator," helps the parties try to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute. The mediator does not decide the dispute but helps the parties communicate so they can try to settle the dispute themselves. Mediation avoids the formal constraints of the courtroom and leaves control of the outcome with the parties. More Information.


In arbitration, a neutral person called an "arbitrator," hears arguments and evidence from each side and then decides the outcome of the dispute. Arbitration is less formal than a trial, and the rules of evidence are often relaxed. Arbitration may be either "binding" or "non-binding." More Information.

Court Directed Mediation

If the parties are amenable, the Court will assign suitable civil cases (in which the amount demanded is up to $70,000), to one of the mediators on the court directed mediation panel for two hours of free mediation. Assignment generally occurs at the Case Management Conference. More Information.

Small Claims and Unlawful Detainer (Eviction) Free Mediation

The Superior Court of Monterey County has partnered with the Monterey College of Law and Mandell-Gisnet Center for Conflict Management to offer mediation for Small Claims and Unlawful Detainer (eviction) cases before filing, after filing, or on the day of trial. The program is voluntary and at no cost to the litigants, but is only available if both parties are self-represented.

Small Claims and Unlawful Detainer Mediation Program

Requests for mediation prior to the trial date may be done by completing a Request for Mediation - Small Claims or Request for Mediation – Unlawful Detainer and faxing to the ADR Coordinator at the Monterey College of Law at 831-582-4095 or by email at For more information, call the Monterey College of Law at 831-582-5234.

Participant feedback is greatly appreciated, please, click here to access Feedback Form. If you wish to make a formal complaint about a court mediator, please click here.

The NEIGHBOR Project

The NEIGHBOR (Neighbors Engaged In Gaining Harmony By Offering Resolution) Project provides dispute resolution services for contentious conflicts that would otherwise result in multiple enforcement or court proceedings for the following areas of conflict:

  • Neighborhood concerns, such as noise, animals, easements, fences, trees, parking, trespass
  • Code enforcement issues, such as housing issues, vandalism, building codes, zoning violations
  • Land use based limited civil litigation, harassment restraining orders, small claims

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