Every community experiences disputes among its members, ranging from arguments among parents and children, neighbors and relatives—such as those about fences, dogs and debts—to public policy controversies involving large segments of the community—such as policing, community goals, budget and negotiation issues, economic development plans, environmental pollutants, and the placement facilities. Although conflict may be inevitable, plans, preparation, and strategies for responding to conflict vary greatly.
If you are involved in a community dispute or a lawsuit, mediation can help resolve the issues in the most cost-effective manner with the least damage to the relationships within your community.
There are many common responses to community and youth conflicts, including accepting the problem, addressing the issue directly or indirectly with the other party, and taking the other party to court. Education and understanding are critical components to these processes without always involving lawyers, the police, or the court system.
In recent years, many communities across the United States have developed additional approaches for handling conflicts by establishing community mediation programs that address a broad range of disputes that occur within various cultures, ethnic groups, nationalities, and religions.
Community mediation programs can provide professionals and train local volunteers in conflict resolution skills; these volunteers then provide dispute resolution services to individual citizens and groups. Mediation sessions bring together the parties in a dispute with mediators who help them discuss the issues involved and work toward a mutually agreeable solution to the problem.
When agreements are reached, the terms of the agreement are recorded in writing and signed by the disputants.
Community mediation programs in the United States were initially developed in the 1970s, in part to respond to the delays, costs, and related problems that limit access to the courts and also to create a more responsive process for dealing with conflicts. Since then, research findings have indicated that disputants often prefer community mediation to the court process, not only because cases are handled quickly and for little or no cost, but also because disputants feel that the mediation process is satisfying, fair, understandable, and resolves their conflicts.
Alternative Law will provide mediation services to all members of the community. We accept neighborhood controversies, family and divorce mediation, school peer training and conflict resolution programs, minor criminals, and corporate workplace training.