In New Jersey, the judiciary has established the very successful Statewide Mediation Program for Civil, General Equity & Probate Cases:
“Mediation is a dispute resolution process in which an impartial third party – the mediator – facilitates negotiations among the parties to help them reach a mutually acceptable settlement. The major distinction between mediation and arbitration is that, unlike an arbitrator, a mediator does not make a decision about the outcome of the case. The parties, with the assistance of their attorneys, work toward a solution with which they are comfortable. The purpose of mediation is not to decide who is right or wrong. Rather, its goal is to give the parties the opportunity to (1) express feelings and diffuse anger, (2) clear up misunderstandings, (3) determine underlying interests or concerns, (4) find areas of agreement, and, ultimately, (5) incorporate these areas into solutions devised by the parties themselves.”
Court Rule 1:40-4 & 6 govern the mediation program for Civil, General Equity and Probate Cases. Under R. 1:40-6, the court can refer any civil case to mediation at no charge for two hours.