Alternative Dispute Resolution
From Consumer Wiki
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the process used to resolve disputes outside of court with negotiation and mediation. The California Department of Consumer Affairs oversees numerous programs in counties that partcipate in dispute resolution programs. ADR allows the disputing parties to arrive at their own solution or reach consensus on the conflict. If arbitration is the choice of resolution, a third party renders a decision, which both parties agree to accept.
The DCA website lists all Mediation Programs by area - 
The two types of ADR are:
1) The "consensual process" which allows the disputing parties to decide on a solution to the conflict.
2) The "adjudicatory process" involves a third party who renders a decision, which is binding upon both parties involved in the dispute.
- Resolutions through ADR are usually inexpensive and charges may be based on a sliding scale based on income.</p>
- Some governmental agencies now require ADR for prompt resolution of disputes.</p>
- Many small claims courts now require litigants to mediate prior to a hearing.</p>
Publications available: Small Claims Court, A Guide to Its Practical Use