62-B District Court allows civil disputes to be settled out of court

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The 62-B District Court of Kentwood established an Alternative Dispute Resolution plan that allows individuals to settle disputes outside of the courtroom through mediation.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) plan also is designed to reduce client costs and allow a mediator, a third-party individual, to resolve disagreements and help individuals reach a mutual agreement.

The plan outlines the process of determining which cases are suitable for mediation and how meditators are selected. If a case is referred for mediation, an ADR clerk will let the parties know that they can use the Dispute Resolution Center or select a private mediator by agreement to resolve the matter. The clerk will work with the parties to understand the process and connect with a mediator.

“Court cases involve a significant financial and emotional investment,” 62-B District Court Judge Amanda Sterkenburg said. “I am proud the 62-B District Court is offering this plan as a way to save time and money for those seeking resolution, preserve relationships and help each party walk away more satisfied.

“Another beneficial aspect of ADR is each party gets the opportunity to have their voice heard in a safe and neutral environment. Being able to express themselves empowers the parties to work past the conflict and seek resolution.”

The mediation option had been available for the 62-B District Court’s small claims cases in partnership with the Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan.

“The best ADR outcomes are reached when varying perspectives are taken into consideration,” Sterkenburg said. “The 62-B District Court remains committed to acknowledging diverse cultures, values and socioeconomic statuses within disputes. We see each perspective in the room as equally valid and we use well-trained mediators and interpreters to reach optimal resolutions.”

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