Court-Certified Mediator Qualification Requirements by State

The judicial system plays an important role in the United States, but it’s not without its drawbacks and limitations, particularly the contentious nature of litigation. Mediation, on the other hand, while not a substitute for the judicial system, is an effective and affordable complement in a broad range of cases.

If mediation is deemed appropriate and the parties agree to or are ordered to mediate, the court will refer the parties to an approved mediator or provide a “roster” of mediators who meet basic standards and requirements. In states that have such requirements, mediators must receive court approval or certification to be considered for referral.

General Requirements for Court-Appointed Mediators

Training

States with official court mediator rosters usually require between 20 and 40 hours of approved mediation training. Of those states with comprehensive statewide standards, the majority require greater training for neutrals who wish to mediate family disputes than for those interested in civil disputes. Domestic relations cases often involve high conflict and most of the parties in such cases are self-represented litigants. Mediators in family cases also often work with parties who are unfamiliar with the law, so it’s important that family court mediators are intimately aware of the nuances related to such cases.

Experience

Experience requirements vary by state, but most include a minimum number of mediations performed either independently or under the supervision of a mediator mentor. Some states will also accept mediation experience in place of other requirements. In Louisiana, for example, a person must be licensed to practice law in the state or have mediated at least 25 disputes or engaged in more than 500 hours of dispute resolutions.

Education

Few states require a law degree to be recognized as a court-approved mediator. In some states, a bachelor’s degree may be required for family court mediators. For example, in New Jersey, the general criteria for admission to the court roster of mediators includes 40 hours of basic mediation training, five hours of mentorship and a bachelor’s degree.

State-by-State Guide to Court Mediator Certification

Interested in jumping ahead to a specific state? Click the state link below:

General Requirements:

The Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution maintains a roster of court-certified mediators. To be included on the roster, a mediator must satisfy any one of the following criteria: 

1) Be licensed as an attorney in any state with four years legal or judicial experience (experience requirement may be satisfied by completing an approved law school mediation course), or 

2) have a bachelor’s degree or higher, at least five years of management or administrative experience in a professional, business or governmental entity and experience as the mediator in at least 10 mediations. Candidates must also complete an approved 20-hour mediation training program. To be approved, training programs must include, at a minimum, mock mediation exercises and ethics education.

General Requirements:

In Alaska, anyone can act as a mediator. There are no state standards or licensing requirements. Mediator education, training, experience and style vary. It is up to the people involved to decide what they need in a mediator, and to be sure that the mediator they choose has the necessary skills and approach. To help parties choose a qualified mediator, the Alaska Judicial Council publishes a free guide to selecting a qualified mediator: Consumer Guide to Selecting a Mediator.

General Requirements:

Candidates must demonstrate at least two years of experience as a family mediator, family court judicial officer or family court judge pro tempore with at least 20 family cases mediated or trials held in the past five years.

Educational Requirements:

1. A 40-hour family mediation training course within five years of the application period.

OR

2. A 40-hour basic mediation training, a 20-hour advanced family mediation training, six initial training hours on domestic violence and child abuse training and four subsequent hours of training on domestic violence and child abuse every two years.

Arkansas

Arkansas ADR Commission

General Requirements:

Refer to the Arkansas Judiciary’s Minimum Standards for Basic Mediation Training and Continuing Mediation Education Requirements for Certified Mediators. The Arkansas ADR Commissions maintains a roster of mediators qualified for circuit courts. To be included on the roster, applicants must have completed a minimum of 40 hours in an approved mediation training program within five years of applying for certification. Education requirements include a master’s degree or higher, a juris doctorate or equivalent, a bachelor’s degree plus a graduate level certificate in conflict resolution or substantial, demonstrated and satisfactory knowledge, skills, abilities and experience as a mediator in the applicable field of mediation.

General Requirements:

Each jurisdiction has its own standards for civil mediators. The Supreme Court of California provides a directory of information for each superior court’s ADR programs. The Administrative Office of the Courts provides model standards for mediator qualifications in order to assist superior courts in developing their own standards (formally known as the Model Qualification Standards for Mediators in Court-Connected Mediation Programs for General Civil Cases). Model standards include 40 hours of basic mediation training, at least two mediations of at least two hours in length that are co-mediated with or observed by a mentor mediator and legal education in the form of a course on the court system and civil litigation (this requirement is waived for lawyers).

General Requirements:

There are currently no statewide requirements for the practice of mediation. One roster of mediators is maintained by the Colorado Judicial Department’s Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR). The ODR only considered experienced mediators for inclusion on their roster. Generally, this requires that the applicant has mediated a minimum of 20 cases. At least 40 hours of “hands-on” training in specific mediation skills and general mediation training is also required.

Preference is given to individuals with extensive knowledge of Colorado law, court procedures and the role of judges, lawyers, etc.

General Requirements:

No state requirements or guidelines for the practice of mediation, and a law degree is not required. They mainly maintain three types of ADR programs: Civil ADR Programs, Family ADR Programs and Private ADR Programs. Training and requirements may vary based on specialization.

Delaware

Delaware Courts

General Requirements:

The Superior Court of Delaware maintains a Mediator Directory of active mediators who are members of the Delaware Bar and others who have completed Superior Court’s mediation training in conflict resolution techniques. Requirements may vary by court.

General Requirements:

Candidates must complete training and mediate three to six cases without a stipend payment, then complete a one year probation period with a stipend to be eligible to apply for training in another Multi-Door program (Family, Child Protection, Small Claims, Landlord/Tenant or Civil). Candidates must also complete a mediation program specific mentorship within six months of training. Participation during the probation period varies by program. Civil, Tax and Probate Mediation Programs applicants must be U.S. attorneys currently admitted to the bar. There are no specific requirements to apply.

General Requirements:

According to How to Become a Certified Mediator published by Florida Dispute Resolution Center, for certification as a county court, family, circuit court, dependency or appellate mediator in Florida, a mediator must be at least 21 years of age and be of good moral character. Mediators must also have the required number of points for the type of certification sought. Points are awarded for education (e.g., 25 points for a master’s degree, 30 pointes for a master’s degree in conflict resolution, etc.), mediation experience and mentorship. Miscellaneous points are also awarded for applicants licensed or certified in psychology, accounting, social work, mental health, healthcare, education or the practice of law or mediation, and for the successful completion of a mediation training program (minimum 30 hours in length).

General Requirements:

There is no “certification” of neutrals in Georgia. Instead, neutrals who desire to handle court-referred or court-ordered cases must be “registered” with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution. The office maintains a public registry of neutrals who have met the Supreme Court’s requirements to serve in court-connected ADR programs. To become a Georgia-registered neutral, mediators must have 6-42 hours of training courses, and additional observation and practicum hours depending on the category in which they wish to register (early neutral evaluation, general civil mediation, domestic relations mediation, etc).

General Requirements:

There is no “licensing” or “certification” of court-related mediators in Hawaii. While the Hawaii State Judiciary does not regulate the work of mediators, it encourages mediators to refer to Guidelines for Hawaii Mediators. Mediators are also encouraged to contact their local mediation center for information on court referrals. The State Judiciary partners with community mediation centers. You must undergo training and meet certain requirements in order to mediate with a center.

General Requirements:

Each trial court administrator maintains a list of mediators who meet the qualifications of Idaho Court Administrative Rule 73, subsection A (Qualifications of Court-Appointed Mediators). The Administrative Director of the Courts distributes a list of court-approved mediators at least annually. To be included on the court’s register, a mediator must be a member of the Idaho State Bar, admitted to the practice of law for at least five years, have completed a minimum of 40 hours of mediation training and complete at least five hours of continuing training every three years.

General Requirements:

Illinois has no statewide certification process for the practice of civil mediation. Individual circuits have developed their own standards for court-approved mediators. Contact local Illinois courts for more information on how to be eligible for court-connected mediation.

General Requirements:

Indiana has requirements to become a mediator including training and fees. Different types of mediation also carry different experience requirements. The Indiana Commission for Continuing Legal Education maintains a statewide registry of court-approved mediators. In Rule 2.5. Qualifications of Mediators, civil mediators must be an attorney, have 40 hours of Commission-approved civil mediation training and have taken at least six hours of approved continuing education training within three years of submitting the registration application. Domestic mediators are not required to be attorneys.

General Requirements:

To meet the qualifications of Roster Mediators in Iowa, applicants who have a Bachelor-level degree or higher and have received 40 hours of mediation training are eligible for placement on the Roster of Mediators. Alternatively, those who have at least 60 hours of divorce and custody mediation training and have conducted 10 mediations as a sole mediator or 20 mediations as a co-mediator 12 months prior to submitting their application are also eligible.

General Requirements:

In order to be recognized by the Kansas Judicial Branch, court-approved mediators must complete core mediation training of 16- 24 hours (including conflict resolution techniques, agreement writing, case evaluation and the laws governing mediation), co-mediate with or be supervised by an approved mentor mediator for three cases, be of good moral character and be mentally and emotionally fit to engage in the active and continuous practice of mediation. Applicants wishing to mediate certain types of cases (e.g., domestic, parent/adolescent, civil, juvenile dependency or mentor) must have additional training specific to that area.

General Requirements:

To qualify for the Kentucky’s Roster of Court-Approved Mediators, an applicant must obtain 40 hours of mediation training with an approved mediation training program covering communication skills, conflict resolution theory and practice, mediation theory and the court process, and 15 hours of hands-on-experience in actual disputes (at least three cases) as a participating mediator under the guidance of a qualified mediator mentor.

General Requirements:

Louisiana maintains three different court mediation rosters: Civil, Juvenile and Child Custody/Visitation. Mediators must meet specific requirements for the area in which they wish to register. To qualify for general appointment as a court-connected mediator, a person must be licensed to practice law in the state for no less than five years and have completed a minimum of 40 classroom hours of training in mediation by an approved individual or organization. If the person is not licensed to practice law, he or she must have mediated more than 25 disputes or engaged in more than 500 hours of dispute resolutions.

General Requirements:

The Office of Court ADR oversees and maintains seven statewide ADR rosters (Small Claims, Family Matters, Forcible Entry and Detainer, Land Use/Environmental, General Civil Litigation, Superior Court Mediation, Superior Court Arbitration and Superior Court Early Neutral Evaluation). Mediators must fulfill different requirements to serve on each of these rosters. Requirements pertain to 50-100 hours of training and experience, including mediation process training, experience as a mediator and training or experience in the area in which the mediator wishes to register.

General Requirements:

A minimum 40 hours of basic mediation training is a requirement for anyone who wishes to mediate in the courts. Other basic qualifications include experience mediating or co-mediating at least two civil cases and completion of four hours of continuing mediation education per year. Court-designated mediators must also meet additional requirements to be listed on specific mediation rosters (e.g., Business and Technology, Economic Issues in Divorce and Annulment, Healthcare Practice). Mediators may also become “certified” by the Maryland Council for Dispute Resolution (MCDR) and Community Mediation Maryland (CMM) through a performance-based assessment process.

General Requirements:

Mediators of the courts must undergo specific training. In Massachusetts, mediators do not apply directly to the court; the court contracts with approved programs to provide mediators. It is the responsibility of these approved programs to ensure that their mediators meet the requirements of Massachusetts’ Guidelines for Implementation and Qualification Standards for Neutrals. General qualifications for court-connected mediators include completion of at least 30 hours of basic mediation training, at least one observation of a mediation and one mediation with, or observed by, a skilled mentor.

General Requirements:

The Office of Dispute Resolution maintains rosters of court-approved mediators. Roster requirements vary depending on whether the mediator is seeking inclusion on the General Civil Mediation or Domestic Relations Mediation roster. For example, to be referred for civil court cases, a mediator must (a) have a juris doctor degree or a graduate degree in conflict resolution, or (b) 40 hours of mediation experience preceding the application. For domestic relations cases, an applicant must hold a juris doctor degree or graduate degree in conflict resolution OR 80 hours (or 20 cases) of mediation experience.

Other requirements apply.

General Requirements:

Minnesota requires mediators of the court to undergo training upon the type of law. Court rosters are overseen by the State Court Administration. To become a court-qualified neutral, mediators must take an ADR that meets the requirements in Rule 114.13: (a) Civil mediation–30 hours of basic training including at least 15 hours of role-play, or (b) family mediation–40 hours of basic training including at least six hours each of family law and domestic abuse, five hours of family economics, four hours each of conflict theory, psychological issues, and issues of children in divorce and two hours of ethics training. Qualified neutrals must also complete at least 18 hours of continuing ADR education within each three-year period.

Mississippi

The Mississippi Bar

General Requirements:

Courts are encouraged, but not required, to select mediators from the Mississippi Court Annexed Mediation Program List published by the Mississippi Bar. To be included on that list, mediators must be members of the Mississippi Bar in good standing, have completed 14 hours of approved mediation training and must complete at least six hours of mediation-related continuing education every two years.

General Requirements:

Missouri does not have specific requirements, but there are requirements in order to be on an approved roster. Local courts may impose additional requirements, so mediators are encouraged to contact their local court for more information. There are also certain standards in order to mediate in Missouri under Supreme Court Rule 17 (civil mediation) and Rule 88 (domestic relations mediation).

General Requirements:

There are no qualifications needed to mediate civil cases in Montana. Courts may utilize mediation via direct referrals. Each district court maintains a list of mediators available to assist parties in family disputes, civil cases and appellate cases subject to mandatory mediation. Contact your local court for more information. Mediators may also become “certified” by the Montana Mediation Association (MtMA). MtMA qualifications are recommended for all mediators with the exception of those mediators whose functions are already recognized and prescribed in statutes, in executive, judicial or administrative rule, or through qualifications established by executive branch agencies providing mediation assistance.

General Requirements:

The Nebraska Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) contracts with approved local mediation centers and affiliates for the mediation of most court cases. Mediators interested in mediating court cases in Nebraska are encouraged to contact their local ODR-approved mediation center to find out how to become an affiliate.

General Requirements:

District ADR commissioners create and maintain a panel of mediators consisting of attorneys licensed to practice law in Nevada and a separate panel of non-attorney mediators. The panel of mediators shall be selected by a committee including a representative of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee of the State Bar of Nevada. Requirements for mediators who wish to be included on a panel in Nevada include 10 years of civil experience as a practicing attorney or judge or at least five years’ experience as a mediator. Specific districts may have other requirements, so mediators are encouraged to contact their local courts for more information.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Judicial Branch – Office of Mediation and Arbitration

General Requirements:

The courts maintain a list of available mediators which are overseen by the Office of mediation and Arbitration. Inclusion on the lists requires neutrals to meet qualifications specific to the types of cases they wish to mediate (small claims and civil, probate or family). Family mediator rosters are specifically overseen by the Family Mediator Certification Board.

General Requirements:

Private mediators are not required to be licensed, but there are requirements for mediators wishing to be listed on an approved roster. In New Jersey, if parties consent to or request mediation, they may choose a mediator either from the list of certified mediators maintained by the Court or by the selection of a private mediator. General criteria for admission to the court roster of mediators includes 40 hours of basic mediation training, five hours of mentorship and a bachelor’s degree.

General Requirements:

Except for the Children’s Court Mediation Program, each court mediation program in New Mexico is run locally. There are 13 district court programs, and each have their own policies and procedures for qualifying mediators.

General Requirements:

Anyone can volunteer as a mediator in NY. Court rosters require experience and training. A District Administrative Judge in New York may compile rosters in his or her judicial district of neutrals who are qualified to receive referrals from the court. Court-based mediation rosters generally require a combination of mediation training and experience. General requirements for appointment to a court roster include at least 40 hours of approved training. Individual jurisdictions may impose additional requirements. Contact your local court for more information.

General Requirements:

The Dispute Resolution Commission, part of the North Carolina Judicial Branch, certifies mediators serving four court-based mediation programs: Mediated Settlement Conference, Family Financial and Clerk and District Criminal Court. Each program has its own certification requirements and application materials. Mediators interested in serving North Carolina’s courts are encouraged to contact the Dispute Resolution Commission to learn about specific requirements for each court mediation roster.

General Requirements:

To facilitate Alternative Dispute Resolution, the State Court Administrator maintains a roster of neutrals who may be used in court-connected disputes. Parties may also use neutrals not on the roster, but are encouraged to choose from the list of court-approved ADR providers. Roster requirements vary depending on the types of cases a mediator, arbitrator or conciliator wishes to oversee. The civil mediator roster, for example, requires mediators to complete at least 30 hours of mediation training, including a minimum of 15 hours of role-playing.

General Requirements:

Ohio does not certify or license mediators. Most courts establish their own basic guidelines and oversee rosters of neutrals for referrals. Supreme Court Rule 16 (Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio) provides guidance to trial courts in establishing qualifications for approved mediators. These general qualifications for family mediators include at least 12 hours of basic mediation training or equivalent experience as a mediator, at least 40 hours of family or divorce mediation training and at least 14 hours of domestic abuse mediation training.

General Requirements:

According to Oklahoma’s District Court Mediation Act, a district may maintain a list of qualified mediators to assist disputants in selecting a mediator. To be placed on any such list, a mediator must meet certain minimum requirements pertaining to the types of cases he or she wishes to mediate. For example, whereas civil and commercial mediators must complete a minimum of 24 hours of mediation training, divorce and family mediators must complete at least 40 hours of training in family and divorce mediation. Refer to the District Court Mediation Act or your local court to learn more about these requirements.

General Requirements:

The requirements for serving as a mediator in a court-referred case are provided in the Oregon Judicial Department Court-Connected Mediator Qualifications Rules. Requirements vary depending on the types of cases a neutral wishes to mediate, but generally include training, experience and degree requirements. Court mediator rosters include General Civil, Domestic Relations, Custody and Parenting and Domestic Relations with Financial Issues.

General Requirements:

Refer to Rule 1940.4 for the minimum qualifications of the mediator in Pennsylvania. Individual courts may establish their own criteria for listing a mediator as a member of their roster. Contact your local court to determine the requirements for inclusion in such lists.

General Requirements:

Rhode Island has a Family Court Mediation Program with several mediators. Cases in need of mediation are typically referred to this unit. Rhode Island does not certify or license private mediators. There are private organizations and associations that set their own standards, including the Rhode Island Mediators Association.

General Requirements:

The South Carolina Bar houses the Supreme Court’s Commission on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Board of Arbitrator and Mediator Certification, and aids the Court by maintaining and distributing the official roster of active certified mediators and arbitrators. Mediator roster requirements vary for Circuit Court and Family Court Mediator Certification. Both require mediators to be admitted to practice law and be a member in good standing of the South Carolina Bar, or be admitted to practice law in the highest court of another state.

General Requirements:

Family court mediators in South Dakota must be qualified and approved as described in SDCL 25-4-58.1. To be eligible as a court-appointed family court mediator in South Dakota under this statute, a mediator must have a minimum of 40 hours of mediation training (or five years’ experience in mediating custody and visitation issues with a minimum of 20 mediations during that period). The SD Supreme Court maintains a roster of approved mediators who have met requirements.

General Requirements:

Neutrals who wish to practice court mediation are subject to minimum qualification standards covered by Rule 31 (alternative dispute resolution practice in the private sector is not subject to the same requirements). There are two types of Rule 31 Mediators: General Civil and Family. Mediators can become listed as one or both types. General requirements under Rule 31 include a baccalaureate degree and either 40 hours of ADR Commission approved training for General Civil Listing, or 46 hours of ADR Commission approved training for Family Listing.

General Requirements:

According to the Texas Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, mediators who wish to be appointed by the courts must have at least 40 hours of classroom training in alternative dispute resolution, and an additional 24 hours of family mediation training to be appointed in cases having to do with domestic issues. In special circumstances, a court may appoint neutrals who do not meet the training requirement but who have unique skills or expertise.

General Requirements:

The Administrative Office of the Courts maintains the Utah State Court Roster. To be eligible to be on the Court Roster, applicants must have successfully completed at least 40 hours of formal mediation training, at least 10 hours of experience observing a court-qualified mediator conduct mediation and at least 10 hours either conducting mediations singly or co-mediating with a court-qualified mediator. Mediators must meet additional requirements to be included on the Court Roster for Qualified Divorce Mediators.

General Requirements:

Neutrals interested in joining the roster of the Vermont Superior Court Family Mediation Program must have at least 28 hours of basic mediation training, 40 hours of divorce mediation training, 16 hours of advanced skill training in mediating divorcing families, 24 hours of training in the psychology of divorcing family dynamics and 36 hours of substantive training (12 hours of child support financial issues and eight hours each of domestic abuse training, substance use disorder training and Vermont divorce law). Mediators must also have at least 100 hours of family mediation experience (50 must be as the solo or primary mediator in a divorce, post-divorce or parentage case).

General Requirements:

You may practice mediation privately in Virginia without being certified, but you must receive court certification to receive court-referred cases. Mediators in Virginia are certified pursuant to the Guidelines for the Training and Certification of Court-Referred Mediators. You must have earned a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to qualify for certification as a court-referred mediator. Court mediators may be certified in four categories: General District Court (GDC), Circuit Court-Civil (CCC), Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (J&DR) and Circuit Court-Family (CCF). Each category requires at least 20 hours of basic mediation training and additional court and system training.

General Requirements:

There are no statewide standards or guidelines for mediators who wish to receive court-referred cases. Instead, court-connected mediation goes through Dispute Resolution Centers (DRCs) in the state. Contact your local DRC to learn about employment or volunteer opportunities.
15 hours of mediation training are required as well as an additional 15 hours of continuing education is required every 3 years.

West Virginia

West Virginia State Bar

General Requirements:

The West Virginia State Bar (WVBAR) maintains a roster of mediators who are willing and qualified to serve as mediators in the state’s circuit courts. In order to qualify, mediators must be a member in good standing with the WVBAR, have completed the WVBAR’s Basic Mediation Training and Advanced Mediation Training program and submit an application to the WVBAR asking to be listed as a mediator for the circuit courts. Family court mediators are overseen by the West Virginia Judiciary.

General Requirements:

According to Wisconsin Statute 767.405, mediators who wish to receive court referrals for child custody and domestic disputes are required to have at least 25 hours of mediation training (or three years of mediation experience) and three hours of training in domestic violence issues. Beyond that, the courts set their own qualifications for approved mediators. Contact your local court for information on mediator rosters and the requirements to receive court-referred mediations.

General Requirements:

There are no statewide certification requirements or standards for court-connected mediators in Wyoming. Courts set their own training and practice requirements for approving mediators for referrals. There is one statewide mediation program for agricultural mediation. Requirements include 30 hours of basic training and eight hours of continuing education annually.

For individuals wondering how to become a mediator, we compiled a guide on master’s in dispute resolution for students with and without a law degree in their background. Additionally, if you are looking for a wide range of knowledge of the U.S. legal system and procedures, you also find the online master’s in legal studies helpful. There are also available concentrations in dispute resolution for individuals interested who wish to learn the methods of arbitration, mediation and negotiation.

Last updated: May 2021