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Kansas Judicial Branch

The Kansas Supreme Court
301 SW 10th Avenue
Topeka Kansas 66612-1507

Office of Judicial Administration
Fax:  785.296.7076
Email: info@kscourts.org

Appellate Clerk's Office
Fax:  785.296.1028
Email: appellateclerk@kscourts.org

Frequently Asked Questions

Where did the requirements for court-approved mediators originate?
The Dispute Resolution Act, K.S.A. 5-501, et seq., requires that the Supreme Court set forth mediator standards and ethics. The Kansas Supreme Court’s Advisory Council on Dispute Resolution conducted an extensive study into national standards and ethics for mediators. They also considered the current landscape in Kansas and solicited ideas from Heartland Mediators Association, the KBA, and members of the former Supreme Court Committee on ADR. The ethics requirements are a slightly modified version of ethics developed by the American Bar Association, Society of Professionals In Dispute Resolution, and the American Arbitration Association.

To whom do the standards apply?
The standards apply to anyone wishing to mediate cases falling under the Dispute Resolution Act. The act embraces cases referred to mediation by the state court, state government, where required by state statute and any program or individual approved by the director of dispute resolution.

Why aren't there any educational standards in the qualifications, such as a college degree or J.D.?
Mediation is a distinct profession as defined in the act. The skills, process, and ethics are not identical with any other profession. The majority of mediators have the educational background of a prior or primary profession. Additionally, the advisory council recognized that there are a significant number of people in Kansas currently mediating who have a broad range of backgrounds. What the majority do have in common is mediation training which includes: conflict resolution techniques, neutrality, agreement writing, ethics, role playing, communication skills, evaluation of cases, and the laws governing mediation. Recognizing this, the advisory council did not choose to make a specific recommendation in regards to any requirement as to formal education, but rather concentrated on developing requirements for mediation training.

What types of approval are there?
Anyone seeking to become an approved mediator must first complete the “core” mediation class.  This is a class on the basics of mediation. There are then four advanced categories which can be taken: domestic, civil, parent/adolescent and dependency

Anyone who completes one or more of the advance categories are required to take three co-mediations in each category.  You do not have to complete three co-mediations in core unless you are not taking any advanced training.

Are the standards exclusionary?
In a sense, yes. Just as educational and training requirements in other professions are exclusionary, these do create a hurdle. They don't, however, exclude anyone mutually chosen by the parties and/or their attorneys.

How do I receive approval?
You can contact the dispute resolution coordinator (785-296-2256) to receive an application. A sample application is also listed on the Supreme Court's web page. All applications will be reviewed within 60 days of receipt of the required materials.

I took mediation training several years ago. Do I have to re-take it under the new standards?
If you have not had the opportunity to mediate or have not taken additional training, you may not receive approval and may have to re-take training or work in a supervised capacity. Supreme Court Rule 904 requires that all approved mediators take six hours of continuing mediation education each year.  Example: If a mediator has missed four years, they will have to take twenty-four hours of mediation specific training to be reapproved.

What are the advantages of taking training and being approved?
Mediation training gives the participant an understanding of a variety of dispute resolution processes. These include exposure to conflict theory, practice in communication and interviewing, opportunities to test mediation skills and receive feedback, a chance to thoroughly discuss ethical dilemmas, exposure to a variety of hidden issues which affect negotiation, exercise in creative option building and negotiation, and an introduction to marketing and networking.

An approved mediator receives statutory immunity for court ordered mediations and will be included on the list of approved mediators sent to the district courts and available to the public.

What if I can't find a co-mediator?
The application process contemplates extenuating circumstances and allows for explanations concerning inability to comport. The Dispute Resolution Coordinator will consider requests for waivers of certain requirements, especially in areas of the state, which are under-served.

Will you approve non-attorneys?
The Dispute Resolution Act was specifically drafted to include non-attorneys. There are a variety of disputes, both court related and community related, which can be effectively mediated by a non attorney. The greatest numbers of non-attorney mediators providing this service are doing so in the area of visitation and custody disputes. Many of these mediators have backgrounds in family therapy or counseling. There are also a number of volunteer mediators, particularly in metropolitan areas, who are providing mediation in community settings, small claims, and victim-offender disputes.

Are the standards higher for attorneys than non-attorneys?
Attorneys must comply with the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. These standards may create a higher standard in areas such as competence and advertising. However, many non-attorney mediators are also licensed in another profession and must also comply with their professional standards.

How are the standards going to be enforced?
At the present time, enforcement will consist of tracking continuing education and other information required in the application process and removing a mediator's name from the approved list if the standards are not met.

Do the mediator ethics clash with the attorneys Model Rules of Professional Conduct?
No, the ethics were carefully constructed with the MRPC in mind. The ABA had great input to the original rules from which the Kansas rules were drafted. Kansas Supreme Court Rule 901 specifically details ethical requirements of attorney mediators.

Do I have to be approved to mediate?
No. Rule 902(a) recognizes that parties should have free choice of process and the neutral conducting such process. A mediator does not have to be approved if voluntarily chosen by the parties. However, ethics advisory opinion No. 95-02, although not binding, strongly suggests that an attorney putting him or herself out as a mediator should have the requisite training. Other rules and statutes in Kansas set out the mediation process and ethical standards. Absent approval, the Dispute Resolution Coordinator will not recommend you to a court nor disseminate your name on state lists.

If I have been approved as a mediator by another system can I be grandfathered into the Kansas system?
The Dispute Resolution Coordinator will consider a waiver for anyone who has completed similar mediator approval requirements in other states.

I've settled many cases. Won't my experience qualify me for mediator status?
If you have training or experience in the mediation process as defined under the Dispute Resolution Act, you may be approved. Not being approved as a mediator does not preclude you from conducting settlement conferences or performing as a neutral in a dispute resolution process other than mediation. Likewise, if the parties or attorneys for a particular case voluntarily choose you, you are exempted from the standards.

Is there a grandfathering process?
No. There is, however, a waiver or special approval process.

How do I get on a mailing list?
Simply contact the Dispute Resolution Coordinator at 785-296-2256.

Why is continuing mediation education required?
The national trend for mediators is to require on-going education just as in most other professions. The number of hours (six) was set in consideration of national standards and is a minimum.

Where do I obtain training and continuing education?
There is a variety of training seminars currently scheduled and the list is continually updated. The dispute resolution coordinator keeps a list of all known state and some out-of-state training opportunities and puts them on the court's web page. If you have a training program you believe will benefit you as a mediator, you can contact the coordinator to determine whether it can be pre-approved or even approved after you have taken it. It must specifically improve your abilities in the area in which you are certified to mediate in Kansas courts.

What if I haven't had training in Kansas?
There is a variety of out-of-state training which are already approved. Approval for these programs can be obtained in a way similar to obtaining approval for regular continuing education.

What does typical training cost?
Forty hours in Kansas usually costs around $800, although it may be higher out-of-state. Certain community mediation centers and private entities provide basic (16-20 hours) courses for less, or for free if you volunteer with their program.

Do government agencies have to follow the standards?
State government agencies are required to follow the Dispute Resolution Act or Supreme Court rules. Agencies are free to have higher standards for mediators and set individual guidelines. If agency mediators are also attorneys, previous discussion of how the Model Rules of Professional Conduct affect the attorney-mediator should be considered. The Federal Government has its own dispute resolution guidelines.