Participants are asked to set aside four hours for the first session. A follow up session can be scheduled if more time is required. The length of the mediation session depends upon the complexity of the case and willingness of the parties to resolve the dispute. Eight hours is the average amount of time to resolve a dispute.

Phase 1 — Introduction

The ADR Neutral gives both parties information about the ADR/mediation process. The ADR Neutral defines mediation and the mediator's role and describes confidentiality, impartiality, and neutrality. Once parties have a clear understanding of the process, they can mutually agree to continue participation.

Phase 2 — Issues Discussed

Parties are given an equal amount of uninterrupted time to discuss the circumstances surrounding the dispute. They talk about their concerns and underlying issues.

Phase 3 — Options Developed

After gaining an understanding of the issues and interests, the parties brainstorm possible resolution options. Thus, the focus shifts from the past to the future. Parties discuss what must happen to make the situation better. They discuss what they need from the other person, but also need to be open-minded about changes they may need to implement personally.

Phase 4 — Settlement Agreement Written

Once all issues have been thoroughly discussed and a resolution has been created, the ADR Neutral works with both parties to write a settlement agreement that clear and uses understandable terms. The parties can review the settlement agreement with an attorney if they wish, but it is not required. Parties sign the "Settlement Agreement" to finalize the process.

ADR is not appropriate when:

1. A decision to set precedence is required
2. The matter involves significant policy questions
3. Rights of third parties cannot be addressed using ADR
4. Full public participation is important, and
5. The issue requires continuous oversight and adjustment
6. The issue is harassment or physical/sexual abuse
7. There is a significant power imbalance between the two parties involved.

The ADR Specialist will recommend whether the case is appropriate for ADR or not, and refer cases as needed to the appropriate forum.