Mediation is a process in which the parties work with a trained neutral to reach an acceptable resolution to the issues involved. Unlike a judicially imposed resolution, the parties seek to find common ground and forge a voluntary settlement. The job of the mediator is help the parties communicate with each other and find mutually beneficial solutions. MCR 2.410, 2.411 and 3.216, governs mediation.
In 2004, the Court began referring selected civil cases to mediation. Generally, cases are ordered into mediation during the pre-trial phase. Parties are given 14 days to select a mutually agreeable mediator. If the parties cannot agree, the court appoints a mediator from its roster of approved civil mediators.
Mediation must be completed by the discovery deadline. Mediators are required to contact the parties, schedule a mutually agreeable time to conduct mediation and notify the court of the date. Upon completion of mediation, a Mediation Status Report form must be filed with the ADR Clerk. Cases that are not resolved in mediation are set for case evaluation.
In conjunction with the local Community Resolution Center (CRC), a motion day domestic relations pilot program has been ongoing in the courtroom of Judge David Newblatt. The purpose of this program is to educate judges, lawyers and the public about the benefits of domestic relations mediation.
In November 2004 a local administrative order was crafted that submits 30 post judgment parenting time disputes cases to the CRC. The Friend of the Court is providing program assistance to this project.