Alternative Dispute Resolution, or "ADR", is the general term for ways of settling disputes other than by the traditional trial. In Massachusetts, court-connected dispute resolution services involve a neutral third party (a "neutral") helping the people in the case (the "parties") to settle their dispute without a trial. In some types of ADR, such as mediation, conciliation and dispute intervention, the neutral helps the parties create their own resolution. In other forms of ADR, such as arbitration, the neutral makes a decision for the parties. You may want to speak with an attorney to help you decide which process would be appropriate in your particular situation.
Although some neutrals are attorneys who also practice law, ethical rules prohibit neutrals serving in court-connected ADR programs from providing legal advice in connection with the dispute resolution process. Because any agreement that you make will have long-lasting effects, you should consult with an attorney during the ADR process and a lawyer should review any agreement before you sign it. If you reach an agreement in a case which is in the Probate and Family Court, the agreement is subject to review by a judge. If the judge approves the agreement, it will become part of a court order or judgment which either party can ask the court to enforce in the future.
The Probate and Family Court has approved court-connected programs to receive referrals for ADR services from judges and other court staff. While individuals may seek ADR services from programs which are not court-connected, a primary benefit of obtaining services from the approved programs is that they have met a recognized threshold of quality. The programs monitor quality and compliance with ethical rules established for court-connected dispute resolution services.
There are fourteen "Divisions" of the Probate and Family Court, one for each county. A list of the individuals who are serving as Local Dispute Resolution Coordinators appears below. These individuals can provide information about ADR programs approved for use in their Division and may refer you to one or more programs which may help you resolve your dispute.
Local Dispute Resolution Coordinators
Revised: April 2015
Barnstable Probate and Family Court
Main Street - P.O. Box 346
Barnstable, MA 02630
Berkshire Probate and Family Court
44 Bank Row
Pittsfield, MA 01201
413-442-6941 ext. 7209
Christopher J. Carey
Bristol Probate and Family Court
289 Rock Street
Fall River, MA 02723
508-672-1751 ext. 209
Essex Probate and Family Court
45 Congress Street, Suite 170
Salem, MA 01970
Franklin Probate and Family Court
101 Munson Street
Greenfield, MA 01302
Hampden Probate and Family Court
50 State Street
Springfield, MA 01103
Hampshire Probate and Family Court
33 King Street;
Northampton, MA 01060
Alison McCrone & Krishna Butaney
Middlesex Probate and Family Court
208 Cambridge Street; P.O. Box 410-480
E. Cambridge, MA 02141
617-768-5843 (Alison McCrone)
617-768-5853 (Krishna Butaney)
Norfolk Probate and Family Court
35 Shawmut Road
Canton, MA 02021
Plymouth Probate and Family Court
215 Main Street
Brockton, MA 02301
Suffolk Probate and Family Court
24 New Chardon Street
Boston, MA 02114
Worcester Probate and Family Court
225 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608
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