Dispute Resolution Center
Community Dispute Resolution Program centers provide private and confidential mediation services in appropriate cases on a non-discriminatory basis to all citizens regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, citizenship, age, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, political affiliation, disability, or ability to pay.
The goal of the Dispute Resolution Center (the DRC) is to provide a safe and confidential setting to assist individuals, groups, and businesses to work out disagreements. Anyone living, working or attending school in Washtenaw County can ask the center to schedule mediation by calling 734-794-2125.
The center’s confidential services are affordable for all members of the community.
What Mediators Do
Mediators are volunteers with a broad range of backgrounds who have been trained through the DRC. DRC training conforms to the State Court Administrative Office Guidelines for voluntary community mediators.
Mediators assist persons involved in disputes to reach agreements that work for everyone.
Mediators are not judges and do not decide who is right and who is wrong. They do not act as lawyers or enforce agreements. The individuals involved in the disputes work out the solutions and terms of their settlement agreements and choose whether to sign an agreement at the conclusion of the mediation.
Mediators at the DRC receive on-going training in conflict resolution techniques.
Mediation Works with All Types of Disputes
Some types of dispute that can be mediated are:
- Business / Consumer
- Community Issues
- Domestic Relations
- Employer / Employee
- Landlord / Tenant
- Neighbor / Neighbor
- Parent / Child
- Small Claims
- Special Education
Other types of disputes not mentioned above may also be appropriate for mediation. Call us at 734-794-2125 to arrange mediation.
What Happens in Mediation Sessions
- Sessions are usually held at neutral locations.
- Usually, two mediators are present at each session.
- Mediation usually last from 30 minutes to two (2) hours but may extend to several sessions.
- Mediation includes the following steps:
- The individuals involved in the dispute explain their sides and their understandings of the disagreement.
- When appropriate, mediators assist the individuals involved in a dispute to define the issues or problems involved in their disagreement.
- The parties involved in disputes develop ways of resolving their disagreements.
- When agreements are reached, the agreements are put in writing.
- The individuals involved in the dispute sign and receive copies of the agreement.
- Mediations are private. (Unlike the court system, where everything is a matter of public record, whatever is said during mediation is absolutely confidential. Nothing said by any party involved in the dispute is part of any public record).
Why Mediation Works
- Mediation settlements are fair. The parties in the dispute decide how they can resolve their disagreement.
- Mediation agreements are voluntary.
- Mediation is fast. The individuals involved in a dispute avoid lengthy litigation or long court cases by resolving their disagreement between themselves.
- Mediation can save money. It can cut the cost of legal fees because the actual parties in a dispute resolve their disagreement themselves.
- Mediation has a high success rate. In Michigan, state funded dispute resolution centers report an 80% success rate because the parties involved in disputes decide the terms of their settlements.
Limits of Mediation
- Mediators cannot force individuals to agree to mediation.
- Mediators cannot enforce debt collection for the parties involved in a dispute.
- Mediators cannot testify in court cases or be legal representatives.
- Mediators cannot resolve disputes involving serious violence.
- Mediators cannot resolve disputes involving controlled substances or alcohol abuse.
There are other mediation services in Washtenaw County. When services are required that are not provided by the DRC, our staff will make appropriate referrals.
What if No Agreement is Reached
No one will force you to reach an agreement. If any agreement cannot be reached between disputing parties, or if one or more of the parties fails to follow through with the mediation session, the DRC staff can suggest other options for resolving the dispute.
The disputing parties are still free to pursue many other options, including filing suit in court, or conducting a second mediation session.
History of the DRC
In 1988, Michigan's legislators passed House Bill 260 creating the Community dispute Resolution Program. Bill 260 permitted funding of this Program by adding a two (2) dollar surcharge onto filling fees collected in civil court cases. Funds are managed by the State Court Administrator's Office (SCAO).
The DRC opened its doors in the fall of 1993 and began accepting mediation immediately. The DRC is managed by an executive and assistant director. All other staff is volunteers, including the mediators.
The DRC is a non-profit corporation and warmly welcomes tax-exempt donations and in-kind services from individuals and businesses in Washtenaw County.