Tuscarawas County Juvenile Court

Judge Adam W. Wilgus

Mediation Program for Juvenile Court

 

What Is The Mediation Program For Juvenile Court?  Tuscarawas County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, uses a Mediation Program.  The purpose of the program is to allow for a speedier resolution of custody, visitation, and related disputes through negotiations with the parties.

The court’s Mediation Program provides an opportunity for both sides of a case to explore settlement possibilities without risk of penalty and with the aid of a trained, neutral Mediator.

What Is Mediation?  Mediation is a process of guided negotiations where a neutral person, the Mediator, works with the disputing parties and their attorneys to resolve a case by mutual agreement.  The Mediator, who has no authority to make a decision, works as a discussion leader to help the participants negotiate more efficiently and hopefully reach an agreement sooner than they would working on their own.

Mediation is a confidential process.  Unless you agree, the court will not be informed of any offers made to settle your case.  If your case goes to trial, the Mediator cannot be called as a witness to testify for either party.

How Do I Get My Case Mediated?  At any time after the other party is served with the pleadings, the court may order the parties to participate in Mediation.  The parties may request their case be sent to Mediation; this should be done by your attorney, if you are represented.  If you are not represented by an attorney, you may request the court send your case to Mediation by filing the appropriate request with the court.

Will My Attorney Be There?  Yes.  If you are represented by counsel in the proceedings, your lawyer is permitted to attend.  Should you be unrepresented by counsel, your case can still proceed through the Mediation process.  However, the Mediator is a neutral third party and cannot act as your attorney or give legal advice.

Should I Bring Witnesses and Exhibits?  No.  A Mediation is not like a trial with evidence and witnesses.  Mediation is a discussion of the case and an effort, by the parties, to settle the case without a trial.

What If I Don’t Want to Talk to the Other Party?  Mediation works best when everyone participates by sitting down and listening carefully to what the other side has to say.  You are expected to verbally participate in the Mediation conference.  You will not have to sit alone in a room with the other party.

Generally, after the introductions and an overview of the issues are addressed, the Mediator separates the parties to allow her to speak privately with each party during the negotiations.

I Want My Day In Court.  Why Should I Participate In Mediation?  In Mediation, you help create the result, so it can be a resolution that is more satisfying to you.  Also, a resolution of a case in Mediation is quicker than a trial and generally results in less expense and less time off work.

However, every citizen has a right to seek a fair trial in court, but you should consider that a trial is not the only legal choice available.  National statistics show that 95% of all cases filed in court never go to trial.  Some cases need a trial because of an unusual legal question, a dispute about the facts, or a serious disagreement about a fair resolution.  Balanced against the benefits of trial are such factors as the following:

  • Expense
  • Time delay in getting to court
  • Possible appeals
  • The risk that the results will not be what you want
  • Time taken from your everyday activities

What Happens If We Settle?  The Mediator shall notify the Court upon the completion of the Mediation.  If an agreement is reached, and a Magistrate or Judge is available, the parties can proceed to the courtroom and the agreement can be read in front of the Magistrate or Judge.  Should a Magistrate or Judge not be available, the Court will schedule the matter for final hearing at the earliest possible time.

What Happens If We Can’t Settle?  If the parties cannot settle at the Mediation Conference, several things might occur.  The matter may be scheduled for a second Mediation Conference if the parties and attorneys feel that would be beneficial.  Certain legal questions may need to be answered by the Judge through Motions before negotiations can go further.  Or, the case could be one that ultimately goes to trial.  In any of these results, there is no harm, penalty, or added court costs for having participated in the Court’s Mediation Program.

What Does It Cost To Participate In Mediation?  The Court employs a Mediator at no extra expense to the participants beyond the court cost deposit “filing fee” paid at filing.

Almost all cases will be referred to the Court’s Mediator.  If the case is referred to a Mediator who is not employed by the Court, additional costs will be incurred.  The parties would be given the opportunity to agree on a division of the costs for such Mediation.  In the event you cannot agree, the Court shall decide each side’s responsibility for the expense after considering the parties’ respective ability to pay.

If you have questions or would like further information about the Mediation process, please contact the

            Juvenile Paternity Department at (330) 365-3271

For legal advice on your particular case, please consult with your attorney.