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Alternative Dispute Resolution


The mediation services discussed below are separate from family law mediation services administered through the court.  If you are looking for information on family law mediation, click here.

There are many ways to settle disputes without going to trial.  ADR stands for Alternative Dispute Resolution.  It refers to processes that are "alternatives" to having a trial to resolve your dispute. Mediation is the leading alternative, but arbitration and neutral case evaluation are also common options.  Different ADR processes are designed for different disputes, or different phases of the same dispute, and provide different results. You can choose the process that will best meet your objectives.  Click below to learn about some specific suggestions for each process offered by the Tuolumne County Superior Court.

Available ADR Services

Most people solve their legal problems without a trial.  "ADR" can help.


What is ADR?

ADR ("Alternative Dispute Resolution") is a way to solve legal problems without going through trial.  Two examples are arbitration and mediation.


Arbitration is like a trial, but it is less formal.  It takes place in an office, not a courtroom.  The parties (people with a legal dispute) present their evidence to an "arbitrator."  The arbitrator decides who wins the case and how much they win.  There are two kinds of arbitration. "Binding" arbitration means that the arbitrator’s decision is final. There is no appeal or trial after that decision. "Nonbinding" arbitration means that after the arbitration, either party can request a trial.  But if the party who requests the trial gets a worse decision at trial, there may be penalties.


Mediation is an opportunity to settle your case on the day set for court trial. A trained mediator will meet with both parties, helping them to achieve a resolution that is agreeable to both sides and which helps each side feel that he/she was heard. The Court encourages people to take advantage of the free mediation services being offered at the Tuolumne Superior Court.

Mediation is nothing like a trial.  The parties meet with a mediator in an office.  The mediator may meet with the parties separately or together.  The mediator listens to all the parties and tries to help them work out a solution that works for everyone.  The mediator does not make a decision, and does not talk to the judge about the case.  If the parties cannot agree on a solution, the case can go to trial.

There are Many Advantages to Mediation

Mediation saves time:

Your dispute may be resolved in less time than it takes to proceed through court.

Mediation saves money:

The number of trips to court are reduced, saving time and money.

Mediation encourages cooperation:

The parties can work together, with the help of the mediator, to resolve their case in a way that makes sense to them.

Mediation can reduce stress:

Mediation is informal, and saves time and money.  There are fewer court appearances required and the dispute can be resolved sooner, so you don’t have an unresolved dispute hanging over your head for years.

Mediation encourages participation:

In mediation, the parties have more opportunity to tell their side of the story.

Mediation can be more satisfying:

In mediation, the parties have more control over the outcome of the dispute

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