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What Is Mediation?

Mediation is an informal, voluntary, and confidential way to resolve disagreements. A trained mediator helps people in conflict discuss concerns and, when possible, decide what a fair solution is. Mediation is one form of "Appropriate Dispute Resolution" (ADR).  Other ADR methods include arbitration and settlement conferences.

What is a mediator?

Mediators are neutral people who help the parties discuss their conflict.  Mediators do not tell people what to do, or decide who “wins” or “loses.” Decision-making power stays with the parties. Court-connected mediators are required to meet minimum qualifications available here. For information about how to find a mediator, click here.

What happens in mediation?

The mediation process will vary depending on the mediator. Generally, the mediator will start by describing how the process will work. Then each party will tell the mediator a short story about why they are in mediation. The mediator will help identify the issues, discuss each party's needs, and help the parties talk about possible solutions. During the mediation, the mediator may meet with the parties together or separately. If you have any questions during the mediation process, you should ask your mediator.

What if the other party will not participate?

Mediation is voluntary. No one can be forced to mediate a dispute.

What will it cost?

Rates vary depending on the kind of case. Free mediation is available in small claims, FED (eviction), domestic relations custody and parenting time cases, and some domestic relations financial matters. Free or low-cost mediation is also available through community mediation programs for people who have not yet filed a court case. For more information, click on "Having a dispute" on the left side of this page and then choose your kind of mediation from the list on that page.

Do I need to file in court?

If you have not yet filed in court, you may be able to resolve your dispute using a community mediation program. In some cases, the parties may wish to file their agreement with the court. There may be a fee for filing an agreement. Contact your trial court administrator for more information.

Note: Mediation is not a substitute for legal advice.  You should contact an attorney if you have questions about your legal rights. If you have a question about Oregon law, click here.

Related Pages

How to Find a Mediator

Mediator Qualifications