Kalamaoo County

Ninth Judicial Circuit Court

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provides options for resolving civil and domestic matters. ADR is a process designed to resolve a legal dispute in place of court adjudication. The 9th Circuit Court mandates ADR in civil cases through ordering case evaluation under MCR 2.403; and the court orders mediation in domestic cases with property issues. There are options beyond these mandated processes that could be considered. For example, in domestic cases the parties may choose mediation for custody, parenting time and support issues in addition to the court-ordered mediation for property issues.

ADR options include:

  • Mediation: A forum in which a neutral third party mediator facilitates communication between the parties in order to help them reach settlement. The mediator does not impose his/her own judgment on the issues for that of the parties. This process is governed by court rule, MCR 2.411. For additional information, see Mediation Information.

  • Early Neutral Evaluation: A forum in which attorneys for the parties present the core issues of the dispute to a neutral evaluator or a panel of neutral evaluators, while in the presence of the parties. This occurs after the case is filed but before discovery has commenced. The neutral evaluator or panel is responsible for giving the parties a candid and truthful assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the case. If settlement does not result, the neutral evaluator or panel helps narrow the dispute and suggests guidelines for discovery.

  • Arbitration: A forum in which each party and their counsel present their position and evidence before a neutral third-party arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators) who renders a specific, binding or non-binding award as agreed by the parties.

  • Other Methods: Other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution may be utilized by the parties, including combinations of the aforementioned or any other method that is fundamentally fair and is mutually agreeable to all parties.

ADR processes involving the court must be approved by the assigned judge.

A list of mediators that the parties may wish to utilize in pursuing mediation is available from the ADR Coordinator, who may be contacted at (269)384-8255.

Parties/attorneys deciding to engage in ADR processes beyond those ordered by the court should advise the ADR Coordinator at (269)384-8255. If settlement or partial settlement is achieved through ADR processes, the ADR Coordinator should be advised as well. Notification to the ADR Coordinator assists with caseflow management and mandatory statistical reporting.

Civil Case Evaluation
The Circuit Court Trial Division mandates ADR in civil cases through ordering case evaluation under MCR 2.403.

Case Evaluation Notice: The case evaluation date is ordered via the Civil Proceedings Scheduling Order and will indicate an a.m. or p.m. session. An additional notice of case evaluation will be mailed at least 28 days prior to the case evaluation date, which will designate the specific time for the evaluation and the names of the evaluators.

Facilitative Mediation for Civil Case Codes NP, NH, NM, CB
The Circuit Court Trial Division schedules a status conference for civil cases with case codes NP, NH, NM and CB; at which time the court and parties discuss use of facilitative mediation. If the parties agree prior to the status conference date that they will use facilitative mediation, they must complete and file an Order for Mediation with the ADR clerk prior to the status conference date. A form will be provided with the scheduling order, and an electronic version will also be available from the ADR clerk (email). The status conference will be canceled if all parties agree to mediation and the Order for Mediation is timely filed with the ADR clerk.

Notice: The court will not automatically provide updates to forms that are provided electronically to attorneys/parties. It is the responsibility of the recipient to contact the Circuit Court Clerk's Office to determine the date of the most recent version, indicated on the lower left corner of the form.