In mediation, a person called a “mediator” helps people in a dispute to communicate with one another, to understand each other, and if possible, to reach agreements that satisfy everyone’s needs. The mediator does not take sides or decide who was right or wrong in the past. The mediator helps people focus on the future and make their own decisions.
In many cases, mediation can:
- Improve communication
- Help people achieve a better understanding of the situation and one another
- Save time and money spent on the conflict
- Address non-legal issues of importance to the people in conflict
- Lead to longer-lasting agreements
Mediation can be especially effective in family, neighbor, and business conflicts or where the people involved want to preserve their relationship.
Mediation may not be appropriate or safe in cases involving a history or fear of domestic violence.
Mediation & Cases in Court
If you have a case already in court, you may want to discuss mediation and other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options with your lawyer. If you need help finding a lawyer, you may want to visit CourtHelp or call your local bar association.
If you don't have a lawyer and you are interested in resolving your dispute through mediation, you may find a mediator in the Statewide Mediator Directory, or ask court staff for a referral. Free or reduced-fee mediation services may be available in the courthouse where you have a case or through your local CDRC.
You may bring a lawyer to mediation. Speaking with a lawyer before or between mediation sessions is recommended. The NYS Unified Court System’s CourtHelp website may be a useful resource in how to find a lawyer or how to get legal information.
Learn more about mediating your case.
Generally speaking, there are three types of mediators you might consider:
- Community Mediators – a volunteer mediator approved to mediate with a Community Dispute Resolution Center.
- Roster Mediators – a mediator who has been approved by one of the trial courts to mediate cases. A list of all roster mediators can be found in the Statewide Mediator Directory. Roster mediators may be hired privately.
- Other Mediators – a mediator that is selected by the parties without a court's referral. These mediators may or may not be on a court roster, and may be hired before going to court. Mediators who are hired without court referral are not governed by a court’s rules about mediation or mediator compensation.
Free or Low-Cost Mediation
Free or low-cost mediation and other ADR services are offered through not-for-profit Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRCs). CDRCs handle disputes between parents, parents and children, families and schools, landlords and tenants, neighbors, roommates, consumers and merchants, business partners, and others. CDRCs operate in 62 New York Counties and help nearly a hundred thousand New Yorkers a year.
Other free and low cost mediation options are available in small claims and divorce cases.