Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida

COURT Housing Eviction Landlord/Tenant Portal (courtH.E.L.P)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why mediate?

About 99% of cases filed in court are resolved without a trial, and many people go to the courthouse to reach a settlement on the date of a hearing or trial. ODR allows you the flexibility to try to settle your matter on your own time, quickly and easily online, all without going to court.

How much does it cost to use ODR?

No cost to users.

How does ODR work?

The person starting a case, the plaintiff , either files their case at court or online. The court notifies the other party, the defendant, that the claimant has filed a case and that ODR is voluntary. The plaintiff and defendant can engage with each other on this site to define a settlement. If you cannot come to an agreement on the software, a mediator will be automatically assigned to help you resolve your case.

Who is the mediator and what role do they play?

The mediator is a trained, experienced neutral third party who will help you and the other party find a solution to your problem. The mediator will not act as an advocate or attorney for either party and will not give any legal advice or decide the outcome of your case.

What if I don't have access to a computer?

If you are reading this online, you already have everything you’ll need to resolve your dispute. ODR works just as well on any mobile device that can access the internet. Just go to the site on your device's web browser to access it just like you would on a desktop or laptop computer.

How do I access my conversation space?

You first need to be logged in to the ODR site in order to access your conversation space. Once logged in, you will see three tabs. One of them will be labeled Conversations. Click on the Conversations tab and it will place you in the conversations space where you can engage with the other party and the mediator.

Who can see my "conversation" in the mediation space?

The mediation space is private to you, the other party, the mediator and the system administrator. No one else has the ability to view your conversation. With very limited exceptions, such as threatening harm to another person, all discussions are confidential and cannot be used in court.

There may be a time when you would like the mediator to know something that you don't want to share with the other party. In this case, the ODR site allows you to communicate privately with the mediator, who will keep this information confidential. You can have a private conversation with just the mediator by clicking on the "[your name] +Mediator" tab.

How do I prepare for ODR?

Participants generally find that mediation is more useful when they're prepared and have a plan. Having a plan means that you’ve identified your goals, assessed what the other party’s goals might be, and considered several possible settlement options that might work for you, as well as the other party. Thinking through these things in advance will help you and the other participant reach an agreement that works for everyone.

How do I respond to an offer?

When a party sends you a settlement offer, it’s up to you to decide if you want to accept or reject the offer. If the offer works for you, you can accept it and move on to the next screen.

If the offer doesn't work for you, it’s best to reply with an explanation of why it doesn’t work for you. Just saying "no" doesn't help to come up with something better and will probably end the conversation. You can then make a counter-offer you feel does address your needs. Again, offering some explanation is usually helpful.

How do we make sure our agreement works?

It’s always helpful to think through terms that might be important in carrying out your agreement. Here are some terms that you might consider:

  • General terms: address “who, what, when, where, and how” considerations.
  • Future terms: if you’re interacting with each other in the future, how will you do that?
  • Monetary terms: when, how, and to whom payments will be made?
  • Future dispute resolution: what will you do if you have another dispute? [Many people agree to return to mediation.]
  • Confidentiality: Is this agreement confidential? With whom can you talk about it?
  • If there’s a pending court case, who will dismiss the lawsuit or file a consent judgment, and when?
  • Any other terms you’ve agreed to.

Will the mediator give me legal advice?

No, but it's a good idea to know what your legal rights are before mediating. Link to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Landlord/Tenant Resource Center for information on how to obtain free or low-cost LEGAL ADVICE AND ATTORNEYS by clicking here

What if I change my mind after signing an agreement?

Signed agreements are considered binding contracts, so you should make sure that you are satisfied with your agreement before signing it.