Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which a neutral third person helps the parties reach a voluntary resolution of a dispute. Mediation is an informal, confidential, and flexible process in which the mediator helps the parties to understand the interests of everyone involved, and their practical and legal choices. It can help people resolve civil, family, juvenile and other matters in a less adversarial setting. Court mediation programs have been shown to save the parties time and money, improve satisfaction with the court's services and reduce future disputes and offenses.
The mediator helps the parties to:
The mediator does not decide the solution to the dispute; the parties do. Mediation can result in a legally enforceable contract agreed to, in writing, by the parties.
Mediators are allowed to charge for their time, although some court-sponsored programs are free to all Monterey County residents.
California Superior Courts increasingly encourage and offer mediation for a broad range of issues and case types. The Monterey Superior Court currently provides a court-directed mediation program for some civil cases for no to little cost and facilitates a small claims and unlawful detainer mediation program. The Small Claims and Unlawful Detainer Mediation Program is at no cost to the litigants if both parties are self-represented. In addition, the court also offers mediation services for child custody and visitation disputes at no cost to the parties.