Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the general term used to include mediation, arbitration, case evaluation, moderated settlement conference, and collaborative problem-solving, etc. They all serve as alternatives to the traditional court system.
ADR LEGISLATION IN TEXAS
Alternative Dispute Resolution Systems and Financing Act: In 1983, the Texas legislature passed the Alternative Dispute Resolution Systems and Financing Act which authorizes the commissioners court of each county to “establish an alternative dispute resolution system for the peaceable and expeditious resolution of citizen disputes.” This act defines an alternative dispute resolution system as a “forum in which mediation, conciliation, or arbitration is used to resolve disputes among individuals”. In order to establish and maintain such programs, the act authorizes each county’s commissioners court to tax an additional cost, not to exceed ten dollars, on the filing fee in certain civil cases. In Travis County, the full fifteen dollars is collected by the commissioners court and funds the DRC’s basic operations.
Texas Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedures Act: Four years later, in 1987, the Texas Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedures Act (ADR Act) was enacted. The ADR Act proclaims that “It is the policy of this state to encourage the peaceable resolution of disputes, with special consideration given to disputes involving the parent-child relationship, including mediation of issues involving conservatorship, possession, and support of children, and the early settlement of pending litigation through voluntary settlement procedures.” Five dispute resolution processes to which disputes can be referred are described by the ADR Act: mediation, mini-trial, moderated settlement conference, summary jury trial and arbitration. Mediation is defined as “a forum in which an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them.