Before filing a small claims case, it's important to decide whether small claims court is the best place to resolve your dispute. Many disputes can be resolved by using other dispute resolution methods, such as mediation. Mediation is an opportunity to try and resolve disputes outside of court by using a third party – a mediator – to help the parties arrive at their own solution. Many disputes that go to mediation are settled because the parties have control over the outcome. Mediation is results-oriented, time-saving, cost effective, and confidential.
Who should go to mediation?
Everyone should consider mediation. But mediation can really help if you have a relationship with the person you have the dispute with. If you are suing a neighbor, business partner, landlord, or tenant, mediation may help you work out your problems and keep your relationship.
When can I go to mediation?
You can go to mediation before or after you file your small claims case.
How long does mediation last?
Usually, mediation of a small claims dispute lasts anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours.
How do I find a mediator?
If you decide that mediation (rather than small claims court) might resolve the dispute, there are various local mediation services that may be of use. You can find their names in the local telephone book.
RECOURSE Mediation is a local non-profit legal services organization which provides legal services to the court and to private parties. Recourse conducts small claims mediations for $25.00. They can be contacted at:
RECOURSE Mediation Services
520 Mendocino Avenue, Suite #225
Santa Rosa, CA 95401