Citizen Dispute Settlement

When people are not able to solve their own problems, the Citizen Dispute Settlement (CDS) Program offers a viable alternative to resolving the issue prior to filing a court action. Whatever the problem with your neighbor, friend, family member, house mate, landlord/tenant, employer/employee, merchant/customer, etc., WE CAN HELP!

The Citizen Dispute Settlement Program is a FREE court alternative program under the direction of the Court Administrator's Office. Its purpose is to help disputing parties negotiate mutually beneficial solutions to their problems with the aid of a mediator. Problems addressed in this program include: landlord/tenant disputes, conflicts between neighbors, consumer/business problems and disputes between individuals that may not be covered under a specific law.

About Citizen Dispute Settlement
  • We have professionally trained volunteers in mediation, communication and conflict resolution techniques
  • We handle problems only when all of the parties choose to participate
  • We operate under the Administrative Office of the Courts
  • Our track record: 85% of our mediation hearings result in agreements. 80% of the agreements are maintained after the hearings

It takes about 10 days from the time the program coordinator reviews the complaint until a conference is scheduled with the parties and a volunteer mediator. In an informal atmosphere, both sides have the opportunity to tell their stories. The mediator's role is to act as a neutral third party and as a guide to help the parties reach an agreement that best meets their needs. It is a voluntary process and no one is obligated to sign an agreement. There is no charge for our services because the program is staffed mainly by volunteers. The hearings are set at a time most convenient for the parties. If we are unable to help you resolve your dispute, you can then pursue legal action.

  • No charge to participate and no lawyer needed
  • Voluntary
  • Convenient
  • Private and informal
  • Participants are heard, can negotiate and devise their own solutions
  • Relieves over-burdened law enforcement, legal and court personnel
  • Cooperation with other agencies and services
  • Utilizes trained volunteers and is cost-effective

Lee County Contact:

Lee County Justice Center
1700 Monroe Street
Fort Myers, FL 33901
Phone: (239) 533-1595
Fax: (239) 485-1014

Charlotte County Contact:

Charlotte County Justice Center
350 E Marion Ave
Punta Gorda, FL 33950
Phone: (941) 637-2317