ADR Cases

In What Types of Cases is ADR Available?

Alternative Dispute Resolution is available in all kinds of civil cases in the Maine courts. In some types of cases, such as contested family matters, mediation is required before a hearing is held. In many types of Superior Court cases, the parties must participate in some form of ADR--which they choose--at an early stage of the case.

Small Claims

Referral of a small claims case to mediation may be required if the parties have not resolved the dispute by the day of hearing. Mediation can be scheduled before the hearing date. Generally, when parties come to court on the day of the hearing, a mediator is there to conduct mediation. The judge will send parties to the mediation in the courthouse to try to resolve their dispute before a hearing is held.

Family Matters

In Maine, mediation is required in contested domestic relations matters--for example, divorce or unmarried parents seeking custody. Before a hearing is held, a judge or Family Law Magistrate will order the parties to schedule a mediation with the clerk. The clerk will schedule the mediation and send a notice. If parties request a certain mediator, the clerk will try to accommodate that request when possible. The parties can reject or "veto" the assignment of a particular mediator. Mediation is held at the courthouse during business hours (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), unless special permission is granted in unusual circumstances.

Land Use and Environmental

The Maine Legislature has passed laws that allow private landowners to use mediation in land use disputes with governmental agencies and other entities In addition, the Legislature created a mechanism for private landowners to mediate with the owner of natural gas pipelines if property damage results from construction, maintenance or operation of a natural gas pipeline. Other kinds of environmental disputes may also be mediated.


Mediation is also available in eviction actions, which are called Forcible Entry and Detainer cases. A mediator may be at the courthouse when parties come to court on the day of the hearing, or mediation can be requested in advance. If you would like to request mediation, please contact the Clerk of Court to determine if a mediator will be present or can be arranged on the hearing date. Mediation will take place at the courthouse.

Commercial Cases

Pursuant to Rule 16B of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure, in most types of civil cases in Superior Court, the parties and their attorneys are required to participate in some form of ADR--mediation, non-binding arbitration or early neutral evaluation (ENE) at an early stage in their case. Parties choose the type of ADR process in which they will engage, and they choose the neutral who will conduct that process.

  • Civil cases in District Court may also be referred to the mediation by the judge.
  • To find out more about ADR in the Superior Courts and Rule 16B of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure, see Frequently Asked Questions about Superior Court ADR.
  • For more information on how to select an ADR process in a Superior Court case, see the brochure ADR in the Maine Superior Court.

For more information about the Foreclosure Diversion Program, go to this link