Alternative Dispute Resolution

Most civil disputes are resolved without filing a lawsuit, and most civil lawsuits are resolved without a trial. There are a variety of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes to help people resolve disputes without a trial. ADR is usually less formal, less expensive, and less time-consuming than a trial.
Learn more about the benefits of ADR or view the ADR Packet

San Joaquin County Superior Court offers two types of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programs. See below to read more about the programs.



In arbitration, a neutral person called an “arbitrator” hears arguments and evidence from each side and then decides the outcome of the dispute. Arbitration is less formal than a trial, and the rules of evidence are often relaxed. Arbitration may be either “binding” or “nonbinding.” Binding arbitration means that the parties waive their right to a trial and agree to accept the arbitrator’s decision as final. Generally, there is no right to appeal an arbitrator’s decision. Nonbinding arbitration means that the parties are free to request a trial if they do not accept the arbitrator’s decision.

The Court offers a Non-Binding Judicial Arbitration Program. For more information about the program, please contact the Arbitration Program Coordinator at (209) 992-5693.

To learn more about other types of ADR, visit California Courts.


In mediation, an impartial person called a “mediator” helps the parties try to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute. The mediator does not decide the dispute but helps the parties communicate so they can try to settle the dispute themselves. Mediation leaves control of the outcome with the parties.

The Court offers a Voluntary Civil Mediation Program.

To learn more about other types of ADR, visit California Courts.