Dispute Resolution Offers Relief

By Christian Hemingway

Are you having problems with your teenager or another family member? Are you involved in a dispute with your landlord, employer, or employee? Have you called the police about a habitually noisy neighbor or filed a grievance with the Small Claims Court? Are you going through a divorce and need help dividing property or reaching a visitation agreement?

You’re not alone. Conflict is a normal part of life for each of us. Avoiding it only makes a bad situation worse and, in some cases, can lead to horrific consequences. When it reaches a point of destructive behavior or causes emotional harm, then it is time to reach out and get help before things get out of hand. But where can you turn?

The County’s Dispute Resolution Program (DRPS) offers assistance to all members of the community free of charge. Anyone can seek the assistance of a certified mediator in resolving just about any conflict they may be experiencing.

The only thing required for a successful mediation is two or more people voluntarily participating in a collaborative effort to find their own solution to a problem with the guidance of an expert mediator. More often than not, a mediated solution is more amenable to both sides than what could have been decided in a courtroom.

DRPS is home to three divisions: Juvenile Justice, Small Claims Court, and Community. The program also offers training for individuals or groups interested in learning the principles of conflict resolution and communication.

The Dispute Resolution Program is located in the Office of Human Relations at the County of Santa Clara Buidling, 70 West Hedding Street in San Jose. For more information, contact Program Coordinator Brohne Lawhorne at (408) 792-2330 or go to the DRPS website.