OC Human Relations provides free mediation services (for up to 8 hours) to Orange County residents upon request. Residents usually learn about our services by searching the web or being referred by another agency in the county. When contacted, OCHR staff will perform a brief intake with the initiating party to explain what mediation is (and isn’t!) so the person can decide if OCHR’s mediation services could be helpful in their unique situation. If the initiating party is interested in trying mediation, they must provide OCHR with the contact information for the other party involved in the dispute so that OCHR can perform a similar intake with them to see if they are interested in mediation. Mediation is always a voluntary process and OCHR can only proceed with convening a mediation when both parties have agreed that they would like to try to resolve their dispute through the process of mediation.
What is Mediation?
Mediation provides parties with a way to address a conflict situation before it escalates to the point that the parties go to court and/or personal relationships are destroyed. In mediation, parties work together in a non-adversarial process facilitated by the mediator to understand their different perspectives on the problem and collaborate to find a solution that can work for both of them. Mediation allows parties to focus on their unique set of circumstances and explore creative solutions in areas of disagreement.
The goal of the mediation is to help parties overcome communication obstacles that are preventing them from working together effectively to reach their own agreements. The mediator does not make decisions, suggest solutions, or provide any legal advice to the parties. Mediation sessions typically range from 2 to 3 hours. The mediator’s role in the process is to provide a safe place for the parties to:
- Communicate individual needs and concerns effectively
- Consider issues from different perspectives
- Explore options for resolving difficult issues
- Find mutually agreeable solutions
The length of a particular mediation varies depending on the complexity of the issues to be addressed and the emotional elements associated with the dispute. All communications during and associated with the mediation (including the initial inquiry) are confidential. While there is no guarantee that mediation will result in agreement on all issues, experience shows that parties benefit greatly from the cooperative climate of mediation.
At the conclusion of the mediation process, the mediator will prepare an Agreement Form listing the specific agreements the parties have reached. Parties have the option to keep the terms private just between them or to allow for the agreements to be binding and admissible in court. The mediator will work with the parties to help them decide which outcome is more appropriate for their situation. If the parties do not reach any agreements through the mediation process, they do not have to worry that participation in mediation can negatively impact them because discussions conducted during mediation are confidential.
Watch the videos below to get an understanding of what mediation is and what you can expect in a session:
If you would like to arrange a mediation, please complete the following form:
Utilizing funding made available through the Dispute Resolution Programs Act (DRPA), OC Human Relations identifies, trains, and supervises community volunteers to provide mediation services to parties who are involved in court disputes at the North, West, and Lamoreaux Justice Centers of the OC Superior Courts. OC Human Relations has been providing mediation services in the OC Superior Courts for over 20 years where staff and volunteer mediators mediate over 1200 disputes annually. These services are offered free of charge (for up to 8 hours) and can be scheduled in advance of or on the day of the court hearing.
Who Are the Mediators?
OC Human Relations relies on the support of volunteer mediators to be able to provide these no cost mediation services to the public. In order to effectively coordinate the training of new mediators while ensuring that each case is provided with a competent, experienced mediator, OC Human Relations utilizes a co-mediation model where two mediators are assigned to each case. All mediators complete a DRPA-approved mediation training before being eligible to volunteer in the mediation program and each case will have at least one mediator who has completed our rigorous Lead Mediator Certification process. While the minimum number of mediations required to become a Lead Mediator is 12, many of OC Human Relations mediators have completed more than 100 mediations.
To Learn More About Mediation or to Get Started:
Contact our staff at (714) 480-6575 or email [email protected]
Thank you for considering the opportunity that mediation offers for resolving conflict in a peaceful and respectful manner.
Opportunities to be Trained and Gain Experience as a Mediator:
If you think you may be interested in training to become a mediator or to volunteer in our program, you can find out more at:
>Learn more about our Basic Mediation Training.
>Learn more about our Divorce Mediation Training.
>Learn more about Volunteering or Interning with the Dispute Resolution Program
For general questions about mediation or mediator training:
Contact Kathy Shimizu at 714-480-6581 or email: [email protected]