The Citizen Dispute Settlement Program & Pre-Filing Family Mediation

The Citizen Dispute Settlement Program (CDSP) provides mediation and referral services for the citizens of DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota Counties. All of our services are free to the public. This mediation service is available to parties prior to filing a case with the court. We utilize Florida Supreme Court certified mediators who volunteer their time to the program and are selected especially for the program.


Resolving Conflicts Through Mediation

Mediation is an informal and voluntary process for individuals who have disputes that they would like to work out in a non-adversarial way. A neutral and impartial mediator works with the parties to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

Consider Mediation Before Going to Court

The Citizen Dispute Settlement Program and Pre-Filing Family Mediation give individuals the opportunity to resolve disputes in a neutral and confidential setting before a court case is filed. Participants may be able to avoid certain court costs, attorney fees, and lost time from work by using mediation rather than litigating the dispute.

Both parties must agree to meet with a mediator who will help them identify the issues and explore alternatives to solve them. All communications, other than a signed agreement, are confidential to the extent provided by law and generally not admissible in court. If the parties reach a total or partial agreement, the mediator may prepare a mediation agreement. The parties may sign the agreement at the mediation or are welcome to seek legal advice prior to signing.

The mediator does not act as a judge or a lawyer. Participating in mediation does not preclude an individual from filing a lawsuit if the mediation did not result in an agreement.

How Much Does It Cost?

There is no charge for these programs.
All of our Florida Supreme Court certified county and family mediators donate their time and expertise to the program and share our commitment to serving the public.

Who May Participate?

Participation is available to any person residing in the 12th Judicial Circuit who has a complaint against another person. There is no problem too small or too large for mediation.

However, mediation is Not for everyone

Some cases are not appropriate for mediation, and the Citizen Dispute Settlement Program reserves the right to decline a case for any reason. Our office may refer you to an agency or organization who can assist you with your dispute or you may file a lawsuit with the court. Neither the program directors nor the mediators are permitted to give individuals legal advice about how to file or defend a lawsuit.

When will a Mediation Conference Be Scheduled?

Mediation conferences are scheduled during regular business hours. They are usually scheduled within three weeks.

What Kind of Disputes Can the Program Help Resolve?

  • Auto Sales
  • Condominium
  • Consumer
  • Contracts
  • Debts
  • Employer/Employee
  • Repairs
  • Family Disputes
  • Landlord/Tenant
  • Neighborhood Disputes
  • Nuisances
  • Property Damage

What Happens Next?

If you have already participated in pre-filing mediation, you may have questions such as, "What do I do with this agreement? What happens if the other party doesn’t comply? Is my agreement enforceable by the court? What if we didn’t reach an agreement? What steps do I take next?"…

For answers to these questions, visit our After CDSP Pre-Filing Mediation Page

Pre-Filing Family Mediation

The Pre-filing Family Mediation Program is a division of the Citizen Dispute Settlement Program. Pre-Filing Family Mediation is an opportunity to work out a family matter before a court case is filed. To be eligible for the program, neither party may have previously filed any family division court case involving the same parties or children. The most common issues in pre-filing family mediations include parental responsibility, parenting plans, child support, and distribution of assets and debts.

What is Pre-Filing Family Mediation?

Pre-Filing Family Mediation is an opportunity to work out a family matter before a court case is filed. To be eligible for the program, one party must reside in the 12th Judicial Circuit, and neither party may have previously filed any family division court case involving the same parties or children.

What Issues can be discussed?

The most common issues in prefiling family mediations include parental responsibility, parenting plans, child support, and distribution of assets and debts.

Why should I go to Pre-Filing Family Mediation?

Pre-Filing Family Mediation gives individuals the opportunity to resolve their issues in a neutral and confidential setting. Participants can avoid court costs, attorney’s fees, and time lost from work by participating in mediation rather than litigation

What Happens After Pre-Filing Family Mediation is Over?

Once your mediation conference is over, you may have questions such as, “What do I do with this agreement? How do I get a divorce or an order from the court? Is my agreement enforceable by the court? But we didn’t reach an agreement, now what? What steps do I take next?”…

For answers to these questions, visit our After Pre-Filing Family Mediation Page

You may also mail or fax the completed form using the information in the contact section.


Sarasota County
  • Address: P.O. Box 48927
    Sarasota, FL 34230
  • Phone: (941) 861-7833
  • Fax: (941) 861-7810
Manatee County
  • Address: P.O. Box 3000
    Bradenton, FL 34206
  • Phone: (941) 749-3660
  • Fax: (941) 749-3692
DeSoto County
  • Address: P.O. Box 48927
    Sarasota, FL 34230
  • Phone: (941) 861-7833
  • Fax: (941) 861-7810

Arcadia
DeSoto County Courthouse
201 East Oak Street
Arcadia, FL 33821

Bradenton
Manatee County Judicial Center
1051 Manatee Avenue West
8th Floor
Bradenton, FL 34205

Sarasota
Sarasota County
Criminal Justice Center

2071 Ringling Blvd.
6th Floor
Sarasota, FL 34237

Venice
R.L. Anderson
Administration Center

4000 South Tamiami Trail
2nd Floor
Venice, FL 34293