Dispute Resolution Services

In mediation a neutral and impartial facilitator acts to assist the parties and encourage the resolution of a dispute. It is an informal and non-adversarial process with the objective of helping the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

Mediators

County Civil

All Ninth Circuit volunteer mediators are certified by the Supreme Court after a minimum of twenty (20) hours of training and a mentorship program. Applicants must come to DRS in the county in which they wish to serve and spend a morning observing mediations, submit an application, and interview with the department. Mediators are required to complete 16 hours of continuing education every two years. No legal background is required. Please call (407) 836-2004 to request an application and/or appointment.

Family

All mediators and alternates are Supreme Court certified family mediators. The mediators are selected by a committee of Judges and court administration staff. Meet the Family Mediators.

Scheduling of Cases

County Civil

  • Orange County - Monday through Thursday, 8:30am-11:30am
  • Osceola County. - Tuesday and Friday, 8:15am-11:00am

County Cases above $5,000

When the plaintiff submits the notice for trial, the case may be sent to mediation by the Judge. Court staff will forward an information sheet to the party, coordinate a date and time, prepare the order for judicial signature, and send copies to all parties.

Small Claims

Cases are scheduled by the Clerk of the Court for pretrial. Parties are to appear in Room 130 of the Orange County Courthouse or Room 1400 of the Osceola County Courthouse.

Evictions

If a County Judge decides that a mediation is necessary prior to the trial, the mediation will be set within one week of when the file is received, unless waived by the plaintiff. The Judge may order the defendant to deposit money into the registry by the day before the mediation. If the defendant is so ordered, and the entire amount is not deposited by that time, the mediation is canceled and neither party need appear. The plaintiff must file the appropriate paperwork with the clerk's office to proceed with the eviction.

Family Mediation

Either party in a contested family court case must file a Form 50 by fax or mail to Dispute Resolution Services within 10 days after the filing of an answer. A copy of the Form 50 must also be sent to the other party and to the Clerk of the Court. After 48 business hours from filing the form, either party may call to schedule the mediation and coordinate the date and time. A time and date will be selected from the Dispute Resolution Services' Mediation Schedule. If unable to reach a party, the date and time will be set and an order will be sent to the parties.

Rescheduling and Cancelling Mediations

Reset

If a party wants to change the date and time of a mediation already scheduled, the options are:

  1. Motion and Order by the Judge
  2. Stipulation by the parties with a new date and time coordinated with mediation.

Note

In family mediations there is no charge if we receive the order signed by the judge or stipulation signed by both parties ten (10) calendar days prior to the mediation. If less than ten (10) full calendar days notice, the full mediation fee will be charged to the party requesting the reset. For resets with less than 24 hours (1 full business day) notice, the full fee for parties shall be due.

Cancellation

If a party wants to cancel the mediation already scheduled, the options are:

  1. Motion and Order by the Judge
  2. Receipt of a copy of the signed Stipulation of the parties settling all issues.

Note

In Family Mediations there is no charge for canceling a mediation if DRS receives the order or stipulation as above ten (10) calendar days prior to the scheduled mediation. For cancellations with less than 24 hours (1 full business day) notice, the full fee for parties shall be due.

Appearances at Mediation

Small Claims Cases

The Office of the Clerk of the Court schedules pretrial/mediations by Summons/Notice to Appear and parties are noticed to appear. The clerk records appearances and handles defaults, service, and other problems. If both parties appear and if they have not resolved their case, the file is sent to Dispute Resolution Services.

County Cases above $5,000

Each and every named party, or if not a natural person - a representative of the business, must appear. If represented by counsel, the attorney must also appear. For any insured party, a representative of the insurance carrier must also attend. Representatives of corporations must have full settlement authority.

Family Cases

All named parties must appear unless excused by a judge. Attorneys may waive appearance if parties agree.

Fees

  • Small Claims Mediation = No charge
  • County Cases above Small Claims = $60.00 per party.
  • Residential Evictions = No charge
  • Family
    • If the combined gross income of the two parties is less than $50,000 = $60.00 per party for up to one 3 hour session
    • If the combined gross income of the two parties is less than $100,000, but more than $50,000 = $120.00 per party for up to one 3 hour session
    • If the combined gross income of the parties exceeds $100,000 = The parties may select a private mediator, or the court can provide a rotation list of mediators from which to make a selection. If the parties are unable to agree on a mediator, the court will appoint one by rotation.
  • If the court has certified a party as indigent = No charge.
  • Fees must be paid prior to the mediation.

Mediation Process

Definition

The mediator is an impartial facilitator in the confidential process. The mediator attempts to help the parties resolve the issues before trial.

Settlements

If the case is resolved, the mediator assists in preparing the document, which is submitted to the court. In family cases this agreement must be approved by the court.

Continuations

Some cases are continued for another mediation due to lack of information or time for consideration. The parties sign an agreement to return to the process on another date and time.

No Agreement - If the parties are unable to resolve the issues:

  • County Civil: A trial will be set by the judicial assistant or clerk.
  • Family: If both parties are unrepresented on dissolution actions the parties will be notified by Family Services of the trial date. Unrepresented parties and represented parties on all other cases will schedule their trial date as instructed in their packets.

Attendance of Non-Parties

At the mediation all named parties and attornies must agree to allow any non-party to attend the mediation.

Telephonic Appearance

A party may appear by telephone by judicial order or by stipulation with all other party(ies), if out of the state or for other good cause. If so granted, the party must call the mediation office at the appropriate contact number at the scheduled time and will be transferred to a speaker phone in the assigned mediation room. The party must have a fax machine available to them unless waived by the court. The check in website is http://www.ninja9.org/CntyPhoneMeet/PhoneMeet.asp

Mentorship Program

The Ninth Circuit Office of Dispute Resolution Services provides assistance to family and county civil mediators, who live or work in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, to complete observations and/or co-mediations to be certified by the Supreme Court. Please call to schedule your mentorship.