Mediation and Dispute Resolution
Catholic Charities Dispute Resolution Center offers alternative dispute resolution services in Chenango, Delaware, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Otsego and Schoharie Counties. With funding from the New York State Unified Court System, our services include Lemon Law arbitration, Public Housing Fair Hearings, conciliation, facilitation, and mediation for any type of dispute. Commonly mediated disputes include custody/visitation, divorce, landlord/tenant, small claims, special education and agricultural. Through our services, individuals have the opportunity to work together to resolve their dispute and create a plan that will work for those affected and possibly eliminate court appearances.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process in which a trained, neutral third party assists participants in a discussion of disputed issues. They are not able to give legal advice but work with parties to make sure all are heard.
When parties are able to agree, an agreement can be written and in some cases can be submitted to the court where a case is pending. This may eliminate the need for a court appearance.
Participation in mediation is voluntary and confidential.
How does mediation work?
Participants sit down together with the mediators to identify the issues and any areas of conflict, determine goals and explore possible solutions. The mediators work with the participants to ensure equal participation. They DO NOT provide counsel or legal advice.
Conciliation is an alternative form of mediation when circumstances do not allow for parties to meet face to face.
Who are the mediators?
Mediators are staff and volunteers from the community who have completed an extensive training and apprenticeship program as required by the New York State Unified Court. Mediators are objective, non-judgmental, and impartial. They use their professional expertise and experience to help people listen to each other and understand each other's point of view. They assist parties in creating a mutually acceptable agreement.
How much does it cost?
There is no set fee for mediation. However, we suggest a donation of $10.00. Donations, of any amount, allow us to be able to continue to offer this program in our rural areas without requiring a fee.
Below you will find a list of services the DRC offers - these services are offered in Chenango, Delaware, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Otsego and Schoharie Counties, and can be scheduled at a convenient time and location.
- Custody / Visitation Mediation
- Community Mediation
- Lemon Law Arbitration
- Special Education Mediation
- Agricultural Mediation
- Divorce Mediation
For more information about our services, please call (607) 432-0061 to speak to one of our Case Managers.
Volunteer opportunities exist for this program. Please see the volunteer page for more information.
Specially trained mediators assist parties to create a parenting plan that is acceptable to both parties and is in the best interest of the children. The agreement may be submitted to Family Court for the Judge to review and could eliminate a court appearance.
The process is informal and is scheduled at a convenient time and place. Cases may be referred from Family Court or individuals can contact us directly.
Community mediation covers just about every type of dispute. The DRC handles landlord/tenant, workplace disputes, merchant/consumer, neighbor/neighbor, and interpersonal, just to name a few. If you have a small claims case pending, a mediated agreement could eliminate a court appearance.
Public Housing Fair Hearings are held when a tenant or potential tenant has their housing terminated or denied by a Public Housing Authority. DRC contracts with the Housing Authority to oversee the fair hearing process.
Court will always be an option in trying to solve a dispute.
Lemon Law Arbitration is a binding and formal process, and involves a hearing, an arbitrator, the vehicle in question, the purchaser and the seller. Often, the seller will appear with council. Lemon Law Arbitration is referred to DRC by New York State, which means that if a person wants to participate in a Lemon Law Arbitration, they must petition New York State first. If granted by New York State, an arbitration can take place.
For more information about the legal requirements of Lemon Law, please visit the New York State’s Attorney General’s website.
The Special Education Mediation Program is a program of the New York State Education Department, Office of Vocational and Educational Services of Individuals with Disabilities. Special Education Mediation is a process by which parents of children with disabilities and school districts meet with a neutral person, a mediator, to work out their differences. It is often chosen instead of an impartial hearing as a way of resolving disagreements about a student’s special education placement, services, evaluation, or classification. In most cases, the mediator is able to help develop a solution that is acceptable to both the parent and school in a way that:
- Allows all concerns to be heard
- Builds trust and improves communication
- Explores creative solutions
- Gives everyone a chance to have an equal say in all decisions
Mediation is a free and voluntary process, and although there may be a resolution at the end of the mediation, the mediator does not make any decisions or judgments. You do not lose in mediation because you only sign the agreement if you agree to what is written.
The mediators have an understanding of special education law and the school systems of New York State. Special Education Mediators are not employed by either school districts or the New York State Education Department.
Assuming an agreement is reached; the final written agreement is binding upon the parties and is enforceable in court. All discussions and notes from the mediation are confidential and cannot be used as evidence in any further proceedings. Instead of going through the formal channels, why not try to settle things in a less confrontational way?
For more information, please feel free to look online at the New York State Dispute Resolution Association, Inc.
Agricultural mediation is a tool for farmers, agribusiness and others in the agricultural community to talk about difficult subjects and to reach fair and workable solutions without involving outside authorities. Mediation can help people solve problems, avoid escalating conflict, reduce stress, and save time and money. The process is confidential and convenient. Free or low cost services are available in every county of New York State.
A mediator helps you communicate clearly, figure out what you really want, and negotiate effectively. All of the mediators used are local, neutral and do not make judgments or decide the outcome of the mediation. The mediators are present to help the parties communicate, allowing those parties who are directly involved in the dispute make the decisions and solve the problems for themselves.
The list of disputes that can be mediated is endless, but here are some examples: loans or debts, neighbor complaints, small claims, labor problems, divorce, farm business plan, family farm succession and USDA appeals. This service is free and confidential, so you have absolutely nothing to lose by trying to solve a dispute using mediation.
For more information about this, and other special agricultural programs offered in New York State go to The New York State Agriculture Mediation Program.
Divorce Mediation is a comprehensive mediation process that can be cost effective and timely. The process includes an information session, custody/visitation, child support, spousal maintenance, and the division of property. Cost is by the hour based on a sliding fee scale. The number of mediation sessions vary.
Group information sessions are offered on a monthly basis for couples who want information about the process.
Participants will receive a workbook and learn about what is needed to go through the divorce mediation process.
There is a $100 fee to attend an information session. Mediation Services are based on a sliding fee scale.