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Q: What Kinds of Cases can be Subject to Mediation in Arkansas?

A: Most civil (noncriminal) disputes can be successfully mediated and is especially beneficial for disputes involving contracts, leases, small business ownership, employment, and divorce.  Mediation can be particularly useful in these areas because it is designed to identify and cope with divisive interpersonal issues not originally thought to be part of the dispute.

For example, if one neighbor sues another for making outrageous amounts of noise, the court will usually deal with only that issue.  If the court declares one neighbor a winner and the other a loser, it may worsen long-term tensions. In mediation, however, each neighbor will be invited to present all issues in dispute. It may turn out that the overly loud neighbor was being obnoxious in part because his neighbor's dog constantly pooped on his lawn or his neighbor's pickup blocked a shared driveway.

Because mediation is designed to look at and fix the bigger picture, it's a far better way to restore long-term peace to the neighborhood, home, or workplace than going to court.

Q: How Long does Mediation Take?
Mediation almost always takes less time than litigation. Depending on the issues, it can even take place in one day or a half-day session.

Q: How can I be sure Mediation Will Produce a Fair Result?
In mediation, you and the opposing parties will work out a solution to your own dispute. Unless you freely agree, there will be no final resolution. This approach has several advantages over going to court:

Q: Is Mediation Required in Arkansas?

A: Mediation is not required by statute; but judges have the discretion to force parties in any suit to seek mediation under:

ยง 16-7-202. Duty and authority of the courts

(a) (1) It is the duty of each trial and appellate court of this state, and each court is hereby vested
         with the authority, to encourage the settlement of cases and controversies pending before it by
         suggesting the referral of a case or controversy to an appropriate dispute resolution process
         agreeable to the parties.

     (2) On motion of all the parties, the court must make such an order of reference and continue the
         case or controversy pending the outcome of the selected dispute resolution process.

(b) In addition, each circuit and appellate court of this state is vested with the authority to order any civil, juvenile, probate, or domestic relations case or controversy pending before it to mediation.

(c) If a case or controversy is ordered to mediation, the parties may:
     (1) Choose an appropriate mediator from a roster provided by the Arkansas Alternative Dispute
         Resolution Commission of those mediators who meet the commission's requirement guidelines
         for that type of case; or
     (2) Select a mediator not on the commission's roster, if approved by the court.

(d) (1) A party may move to dispense with the order to mediate for good cause shown.
     (2) For purposes of this subsection, "good cause shown" shall include, but not be limited to, a
         party's inability to pay the costs of mediation.

(e) Each court is further granted the discretionary authority to make, at the request of a party,
appropriate orders to confirm and enforce the results produced by the dispute resolution process.

If your dispute has undiscovered or undisclosed issues, mediation -- unlike a structured court battle -- gives you the opportunity and the flexibility to ferret them out.

Because mediation doesn't force disputants to undergo the fear and sometimes paranoia of the courtroom -- where a judge or jury can stun either party with a big loss -- people who choose mediation tend to be more relaxed and open to compromise.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.