Available Case Types for ADR

Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, all Family Matters and FED (evictions) mediations are taking place remotely by video or telephone. Until further notice, mediation will not take place in the courthouse.

Mediation is the most common form of ADR used in Maine courts. (Other forms are non-binding arbitration and early neutral evaluation in Superior Court civil cases.)

Mediation is available or may be required in the following types of cases or disputes:

In Family Matters, Small Claims, eviction and foreclosure cases, the parties pay a mediation fee to the court (unless the fee is waived), and the court pays the mediator. In civil cases in Superior Court, the parties pay the fee directly to the mediator.

Family Matters

Before a contested hearing is held, mediation is usually required in the following family matters cases:
  • Divorce;
  • Parental Rights and Responsibilities (for unmarried parents seeking parental rights and child support);
  • Contested adoption and guardianship cases in district court; and
  • Grandparent/great-grandparent visitation.

Mediation may also be required when parties come back to court in family matters cases and file motions to enforce or motions to modify their court order.  

How and when mediation is scheduled

Before a contested hearing is held, the court may require parties to participate in mediation. The clerk's office schedules the session with the mediator and sends a notice to all parties. Mediation is held at the courthouse during normal business hours, unless special permission is granted in unusual circumstances for mediation to take place at another location.

When parties are back in court to resolve family matters disputes after the court has already issued a final order, the case is likely be scheduled on a list with other cases in a morning or afternoon session. A mediator is usually present in the courtroom to mediate cases the same day.

How the mediator is chosen

A mediator will be provided from the group of mediators who serve that court. If the parties request a certain mediator, the clerk will try to fulfill that request. The parties can reject or "veto" the assignment of a particular mediator.

Learn more on how to get the most out of your family matters mediation.
Learn more about your Family Matters case.

Small Claims

How and when mediation is scheduled

A mediator is usually present at the courthouse on the days small claims cases are heard. The mediator is provided by CADRES, and the mediator's fee is paid with the small claims court filing fee. There is no additional fee for small claims mediation on the day of mediation.

If the parties have not resolved their dispute by the time their case is called, the court may require them to try mediation before a hearing is held.  

Parties may also request mediation before the hearing day. Contact the CADRES office for information on how to do this.

See Small Claims Cases for more information on what happens in a small claims court case.

Eviction (Forcible Entry & Detainer or FED)

How and when mediation is scheduled

A mediator is usually present at most courthouses on the days eviction cases are heard. The mediator is provided by CADRES and the mediator's fee is paid with the FED filing fee. There is no additional fee for mediation in eviction cases on the day of mediation.

If the parties have not resolved their dispute by the time their case is called, the court may require them to try mediation before a hearing is held. 

Parties may also request mediation before the hearing day. Contact the CADRES office for information on how to do this.

Foreclosure

How and when mediation is scheduled

Mediation is available in eligible foreclosure cases if the homeowner has asked for it in writing. The clerk mails a notice to the homeowner and the lender with the date, time, and place of the Informational Session. After the Informational Session, cases go to mediation one by one.
Please note: the Informational Session and mediation may be held in a courthouse different from the one where the foreclosure case was filed.

The homeowner does not have to pay up front to have foreclosure mediation.

See Foreclosure Diversion Program for more information.

Commercial and Civil Cases

Superior Court Cases

In most types of civil cases, court rules require the parties to try some form of ADR—mediation, arbitration, or early neutral evaluation. See Rule 16B of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure. Civil cases in District Court may also be referred to mediation by the court.

However, Rule 16B allows for many types of cases to avoid the ADR requirement, and parties may seek a waiver to avoid ADR by filing a motion. For example, actions for personal injury with claimed damages of less than $30,000 are not required to try ADR, nor are actions by or against incarcerated persons.

How and when ADR is scheduled

ADR must be completed at an early stage of a case, generally between 60 and 120 days after the Rule 16(a) Scheduling Order (unless the time period is extended). The Scheduling Order sets a deadline for ADR.

The plaintiff is responsible for starting the process of selecting the neutral and scheduling ADR, and must try to do so with the agreement of the other side. If the parties cannot agree on which ADR process to use, they will participate in mediation. If the parties and counsel cannot agree on the selection of a neutral, the court will designate a neutral for them.

Cost

Generally, fees and expenses for the neutral are split and paid in equal shares by each party. Fees are payable according to fee arrangements worked out directly by the parties and the neutral. The court does not set the fee. If a party cannot afford to pay the mediation fee, special arrangements can be made for mediation at a lower cost or no cost. Please contact the CADRES office if you are seeking a mediator at a lower cost or no cost for your Superior Court civil case.

Preparing for ADR

The neutral may request documents in advance of the ADR session. If requested, the plaintiff will provide the following documents: the complaint; the answer or other responsive pleading; any pretrial scheduling statement; any pretrial order that may have been issued; and any dispositive motions and memoranda that have been filed in connection with those motions.

Rule 16B of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure requires at least one ADR session, which is referred to as an "ADR conference." The parties may choose to participate in more than one ADR session.

The ADR session or conference is held at a mutually agreeable location. Attendance can be by telephone or video conference, if the neutral agrees.

Who must attend ADR?

Individual parties; a management employee or officer of a corporate party with appropriate settlement authority; a designated representative of a government agency when that agency is a party; an adjuster for an insurance company with appropriate settlement authority; counsel for all parties; and nonparties whose participation is essential to settlement discussions.

Land Use and Environmental Disputes

Private landowners may request mediation in certain types of land use and environmental disputes with governmental agencies and other entities. The Maine Legislature created this opportunity for mediation. See 5 M.R.S.  § 3341.

How and when mediation may be scheduled

This type of mediation is for private landowners, municipalities, and state agencies and boards. Mediation must be initiated by the landowner. To be eligible for mediation, the landowner must have either:

  • Sought and failed to obtain a permit, variance or special exception from a municipality and have pursued all reasonable avenues of administrative review; or
  • Sought and failed to obtain approval for a land use from a state agency and have sought judicial review of the action or failure or refusal to act.

The landowner must have:

  • Suffered "significant harm" as a result of a governmental action regulating land use; and
  • Requested mediation within the time allowed for filing for judicial review of the governmental action.

Municipalities do not have to participate in mediation if they choose not to. State entities must participate. [link to pdf of land use mediation brochure]

Starting mediation

The landowner starts the process by filing a one-page form requesting land use mediation in the Superior Court for the county in which the land subject to the dispute is located.

CADRES will contact the parties involved and provide a list of mediators on the CADRES Land Use/Environmental mediation roster. Once the mediator is selected, the mediator sets the time and place for mediation. Both sides must agree on the mediator.

Cost

A mediation fee of $175 is  required. This pays for up to four (4) hours of mediation. There is no filing fee to open the case.

Natural Gas Pipeline Disputes

The Natural Gas Pipeline Dispute Resolution Program is a mediation program for private landowners created by the Legislature. See 5 M.R.S.  § 3345.

The program provides a way to resolve disputes concerning "acts or omissions occurring during the construction, maintenance or operation of any natural gas pipelines that result in property damage." The process is very similar to the Land Use Mediation Program.

Other Mediation and ADR Services

Maine Attorney General's Consumer Mediation Service

The Maine Attorney General's Office offers a free Consumer Mediation Service to help consumers and businesses resolve consumer-related disputes before a court case has been started.

Private Mediation and ADR

Other mediation and ADR services are available in Maine in the private sector, in addition to those that are offered through the Maine courts. These services may be used at any time (for example, when a court case is not involved). All parties involved would have to agree to try mediation or another ADR process.

The Maine Association of Mediators (MAM) is a professional association of individuals who provide mediation, arbitration, early neutral evaluation, and facilitation services to individuals and businesses in a wide variety of areas. These professionals provide services in the private sector and set their own fees.