Dispute Resolution Program

The Dispute Resolution program offers an alternative to resolving common disputes without resorting to civil court mediation.

diagram outlining dispute resolution

Program Overview

Commerce’s Dispute Resolution Program provides funding to support the delivery of dispute resolution services across the state. Dispute Resolution Centers (DRC) provide a range of programs to communities, including trauma-informed services supporting housing stability, family stability, and youth and community restorative practices focusing on equity. Services provided with these funds include training and background knowledge on specialty issues and mediation for:

  • Pre-divorce child custody
  • Small claims
  • Neighborhood association and covenant violations
  • Youth peer conflict
  • Landlord-tenant disputes
  • Eldercare problems
  • Workplace issues

Local courts frequently mandate the mediation of civil disputes before accepting petitions for civil hearings.

Established under the Washington State Court Improvement Act of 1984 (RCW 7.75), there are currently 21 DRCs operating in 25 counties. DRCs:

  • Promote mediation as an alternative to the court system
  • Resolve disputes in their local communities
  • Encourage community participation and volunteerism in local programs
  • Educate individuals and organizations about how to prevent conflict and resolve disputes peacefully
  • Develop, communicate and teach mediation best practices

Source: Resolution Washington

Dispute Resolution Centers (DRCs) across Washington reduce the burdens of the courts, saving taxpayers money, and increasing access to justice for traditionally underserved populations. In 2019 DRCs mediated 5,070 cases, successfully settling 64% of them. In addition, 90% of clients reported mediation improved their situation.

Annually DRCs appropriate over $2 million worth of volunteer hours, directly serve over 55,000 people, indirectly serve 200,000 people whose lives are positively affected by mediation and other services and reach out to over 7 million Washington residents.

Source Resolution Washington