Small Claims Mediation
Family Services of Central Massachusetts
Voluntary, Confidential, and Neutral
What is Small Claims Mediation?
Mediation is an opportunity for you to have a conversation with the other side to see if you are able to reach an agreement without the court deciding for you.
Litigants are able to request mediation either on the day of trial or they can schedule mediation in advance in an effort to settle outside of court at our offices.
Mediation is always:
Voluntary – Both sides need to agree to have a conversation
Confidential – Mediators do not report what is said in mediation to anyone outside our program with two exceptions:
- If a party says they are going to hurt themselves or someone else
- If a party says they plan to commit a crime
Neutral – Mediators do not give legal advice, make suggestions or tell parties what to do. They are there to help facilitate a conversation to see if both parties can reach an agreement that works for them. Mediators cannot be called to testify.
If you reach agreement, Mediators can help you write it, and submit it to the court for approval. Once approved you will be free to leave. If you can’t reach agreement, or mediation simply isn’t working for you, you can return to court where you will still have your trial.
Working in cooperation with the Office of the Attorney General, the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration, and the Massachusetts Trial Court.
If you would like more information about our mediation services, training programs or you are interested in volunteering, please contact us by phone or email.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have a credit collection case can I mediate?
Creditors typically do not use mediation services because they want to negotiate directly with you. It is best to:
- Contact the Creditor Plaintiff and make arrangements with them; or
- Wait until your day of trial where you will get an opportunity to meet with the attorney handling your case. There you will get the option to either settle, or have a trial.
- You may also reach out to the Worcester Consumer Rights Program (WCRP) a local consumer program (LCP) that works in cooperation with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO).
If you missed your court date – see answer below.
How long does mediation take?
It depends. Often parties, especially ones who do not have legal representation, have not yet had the opportunity to speak to each other. Mediation can be helpful in these instances because it affords parties the opportunity to have a conversation.
Should I bring evidence into mediation?
No, unless it is something you believe will be useful for the other party in your case to see. Mediators do not make judgments or evaluate who is right or wrong based on any verbal or physical “evidence.” Parties themselves make all the decisions and decide whether they want to come to an agreement. An alternative is to return to court where evidence can be presented to the Magistrate who can and will decide for you.
I have limited income, can I be forced to pay?
There are limitations in which a party can be made to pay a court judgment. The court will require the paying party to fill out a financial affidavit. Parties who receive certain benefits cannot be required to pay judgments using those funds. To learn more, please contact the court where your case is filed.
I have to miss or I missed my court date, can I reschedule?
This is not something Family Services of Central Massachusetts can assist you with. You must call the court to which you were summonsed to appear.