Mediation & Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Mediation and other forms of ADR help parties settle disputes without a trial or hearing in court. The term ADR includes mediation, non-binding arbitration, and early neutral evaluation (ENE).

ADR is available or may be required in Maine courts in family matters, small claims, eviction, foreclosures, land use-related, and other civil cases.

Arbitration and early neutral evaluation are available through the courts in Superior Court civil cases only.

Forms of ADR

What is mediation?

Mediation is a flexible, informal process in which parties talk together with the assistance of a trained neutral mediator to try to resolve their dispute. The mediator has no power to decide the case or impose a resolution. The parties control the outcome. The mediator helps both sides:

  • communicate with each other;
  • clarify and express their views; and
  • suggest options for resolving the dispute.

Mediators are provided by the Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (CADRES) in small claims, eviction, family matters, debt collection, and other civil cases, as well as certain land use disputes.

Mediators are provided by the Foreclosure Diversion Program in foreclosure cases.

What is arbitration? 

Arbitration is generally a type of hearing that is private and is less formal than a trial, in which one, or sometimes three, arbitrators serve as the impartial decision-maker(s) in a dispute.

  • The arbitrator issues an advisory decision about the dispute after considering the evidence presented by the parties.
  • Arbitration offered through the Maine courts under Maine Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 16B is non-binding (advisory) and cannot be enforced by a court. Non-binding arbitration is available in Superior Court civil cases only.
  • The arbitrator is selected and paid by the parties.

What is early neutral evaluation (ENE)?

Sometimes called "case evaluation," ENE is an informal process in which parties involved in a Superior Court civil case present disputed facts and legal issues to an experienced neutral. ENE is available in Superior Court civil cases only.

  • The evaluator advises the parties on the strengths and weaknesses of their positions, predicts a likely outcome if the case were to go to trial, and/or estimates the value of the case.
  • The evaluator's opinions are advisory only.
  • The evaluator is selected and paid by the parties.


Diane E. Kenty, Esq., CADRES Director
Telephone: (207) 822-0719

Administrative Office of the Courts
P.O. Box 4820 
Portland, ME 04122-4820