RSI staff conducts research on topics of interest to individuals working in court ADR. Making the results of that research readily available to busy court ADR stakeholders helps these individuals make informed decisions about their ADR programs and avoid “reinventing the wheel.”
Family Court Online Dispute Resolution for Thinly Resourced Parents, Courts and Communities: Impediment, Improvement or Impossible Dream?
Susan M. Yates, 2022
This project investigated the study question, “How might family court online dispute resolution (ODR) serve thinly resourced parents, courts and communities?” It found that family court ODR can be an impediment to access to justice if not provided in an appropriate manner. However, if it is provided in a manner that is accessible, ethical and effective, family court ODR can improve access to justice. Doing so will require standards for family court ODR, as well as resources to support the provision and evaluation of ODR. It will also necessitate comprehensive screening conversations with all parents prior to ODR, which will enable courts to require that all parents who are not screened out attempt at least an initial stage of ODR.
While the study found that accessible, ethical, effective family ODR is possible, the question of how to provide those services to those who need it, despite limited family, court and community resources, remains unanswered. There is no clear path to determining how to sustain family court ODR services.
Jennifer Shack, 2019
The State Bar of Wisconsin Dispute Resolution Section and the Wisconsin Supreme Court wanted to know if and how mediation is being used in Wisconsin state courts in order to identify the courts’ needs and determine the best way to address them. To do this, they worked with Resolution Systems Institute to devise a survey of sitting circuit court judges that asks about the use of mediation in their county, as well as their views on the process. The questions focused on five areas:
- The availability of mediation in each county
- Whether there is a need for mediation in individual counties
- What supports and limits the use of mediation in each county
- Judicial referral of cases to mediation and to specific mediators
- The judges’ views on the benefits and suitability of mediation
In order to limit the length of the survey, the questions were limited to four case types for which it is believed that mediation may be needed. These are personal injury, contracts/business, family financial (e.g., division of property and child support in dissolution cases) and small claims.
The results of the survey indicated that:
- Mediation in Wisconsin is widely available, but not necessarily widely accessible or widely used
- Mediation is needed most for family financial cases
- The judges see the obstacles to mediation to be structural – primarily the lack of funding and the cost to litigants
- Referrals were highest for personal injury cases, and to attorney-mediators
- Most judges have a positive perspective on mediation
The survey was sent to all 246 judges sitting judges, of whom 134 completed it. These 134 represented at least 55 counties throughout the state.
Considering an Online Pre-Mediation Tool to Screen for Intimate Partner Violence: Findings & Blueprint
Eric Slepak-Cherney and Susan M. Yates. Resolution Systems Institute, 2019
The dynamics of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) pose a risk to the safety and self-determination of parties to a mediation. As a field, ADR practitioners have acknowledged that screening for IPV prior to mediation is critical, but do mediators have the resources and support to identify IPV and modify their sessions accordingly? In this report, RSI explores the gap between "best practices" when it comes to IPV and the reality of what mediators are actually doing, and the opportunity for technology to address these deficits. By analyzing the current landscape of screening protocols, surveying practitioners and convening a group of experts in the fields of IPV survivor advocacy and mediation, we concluded that mediators, particularly ones who are new to the field or mediate only intermittently, would benefit from a tool which provides a guided screening interview to assist them in deciding whether a mediation should proceed and which adaptations would be beneficial. To have the greatest impact, this tool would need to be available free of cost and require minimal training. This report serves as a blueprint and includes the features and next steps to develop this proposed tool.
Heather Scheiwe Kulp. Resolution Systems Institute, 2012
This report provides a detailed review of judicial and non-judicial foreclosure mediation programs that have been developed across the country. It includes information about the mediation process, the history and the funding for each program. The report was last updated in September 2012.
Jennifer Shack. Resolution Systems Institute, 2012
This report reviews statistics for foreclosure dispute resolution programs in the US that have made their data public. The data reveals great variability in the percentage of of eligible foreclosures going through the programs, regardless of whether they are opt-in or opt-out programs, and in the percentage of borrowers who retain their homes through the process. The report also shows that some programs are effective at helping borrowers stay in their homes.
Heather Scheiwe Kulp. Resolution Systems Institute, 2012
This report highlights wisdom collected from existing programs, failed attempts to create programs, and mediation's long history of success in resolving court-based and other types of disputes. The author reviews best practices for every step of the foreclosure mediation process, including initial program design and procedures to be followed before and during mediation.
Susan M. Yates. Resolution Systems Institute, 2007
What if ADR could change the way that disputants access justice, especially disputants who can’t afford lawyers? RSI tackled this question in our study Accessing Justice through Mediation: Pathways for Poor and Low-Income Disputants. We surveyed stakeholders and researched the legal and ADR landscape in Illinois to determine the supports and barriers to using ADR to increase access to justice. We described an array of potential program models. Then we designed a blueprint for a system whereby poor and low-income disputants could best achieve a resolution to their legal problems. While the information on ADR programs in Illinois is now old and likely not useful elsewhere, the Service Delivery Models and Blueprint sections can provide insights for any jurisdiction.
*Note: Indicates that this publication was published under RSI’s original name, Center for Analysis of ADR Systems, CAADRS.