Other mediation services

Small Claims

Polk County has a voluntary mediation program in its small claims court. This day-of-trial service offers parties involved in small claims disputes the opportunity to resolve their differences with the help of a volunteer mediator.

Process Description

When people check in for their trial, the court attendant or mediator presents them with the option to mediate. If both parties agree, the mediator takes the litigants to a conference room, and together, they attempt to resolve their dispute.

If the mediator is successful, s/he drafts an agreement for the judge to sign, the judge signs it, a photocopy is made for the parties, and off they go. If the case doesn’t settle, the mediator returns it to the court attendant and it goes to trial before the next available judge. In this way, the parties leave the courthouse with either a mediated settlement or an adjudicated resolution.

Agreements reached in mediation are just as enforceable as those reached at trial, but since the parties have agreed to the settlement, compliance rates tend to be higher. This minimizes further court involvement for things such as garnishments and judgment/debtor exams.

Courts around the state recognized the efficacy of mediation. Small claims mediation programs now exist in Woodbury, Johnson, Linn, Dubuque and Blackhawk Counties.

The small claims mediator

Who are the mediators? They are service-oriented volunteers coming from all walks of life. Their backgrounds are as diverse as ombudsman to veterinarian, real estate agent to schoolteacher. Even the Culligan Man served as a mediator. Mediators typically serve one-half day per week.

 

Real Estate Mediation

Real estate transactions are rife with potential liability. Disclosure statements disputes are the basis for most claims, and Real estate agents have faced ever-increasing exposure to liability. Agents make easy targets for frustrated buyers and sellers. Because of this, the local board of realtors adopted a mediation program that has been customized for real estate disputes.

The program works by having sellers and buyers sign a pre-commitment to mediate disputes should they arise. This pre-commitment can be a clause in the listing agreement and offer to buy, or an addendum to these documents

If no pre-commitment is signed, the parties can still participate in mediation by signing an agreement to mediate at a later time. It’s very unlikely, however, that the adverse party would participate.

By signing a pre-commitment, the parties must first use mediation before proceeding to court.

User fees:

  • Claims exceeding $5000 are assigned to a lawyer mediator at a cost of $160 per party. This retains the mediator for two and one-half hours. If the mediation continues beyond the two hours, an additional charge is incurred
  • Claims of $5000 or less are mediated by small claims mediators at a cost of $75 per party, with no time limit

Since 1994, we have been mediation provider for the Greater Des Moines Association of realtors.

 

Civil Litigation

This program makes available the services of trained mediators and arbitrators in the area of civil litigation. Parties/attorneys may request mediation pre or post filing, or it may be ordered by a judge. Like family law, lawyers choose their mediator from a roster maintained by the program. Program mediators must have a minimum of 18 hours of mediation training.