Alternative dispute resolution approaches such as mediation continue to gain popularity as methods of negotiating legal issues in a structured environment outside the court setting. In the realm of family law, many use divorce mediation to resolve disputes about issues including spousal support, property division, custody and more.
Utah courts require divorcing couples to participate in mediation before proceeding to litigation. After filing an answer to the divorce complaint, the parties must complete at least one session.
Who conducts mediation?
Mediators are trained, neutral professionals who understand both the applicable law and conflict resolution techniques. They facilitate a discussion of the issues and may suggest potential solutions. This can help decrease stress and hostility, allowing the parties to focus on finding common ground.
What are the benefits?
Another potential mediation benefit is the greater flexibility in scheduling, which can fast-track the process for many couples. Because mediators cannot order either of the parties to agree to anything, the parties also have more control over outcomes. This, in turn, helps them work out agreements they can stick to.
Who is responsible for hiring the mediator?
For mandatory divorce mediation, the parties must choose their mediator. Usually, they split the cost. In some cases, the court may be able to arrange assistance for low-income parties.
When is mediation counterproductive?
While divorce mediation offers several benefits, not all divorcing couples should participate in mediation. The courts recognize this and may excuse the parties from mediation when appropriate. Although you do not have to get along with your soon-to-be ex for mediation to work, extremely high conflict levels may make the process unproductive.
You may also consider asking to be excused if you feel unsafe around your soon-to-be ex or if you suspect any type of fraud. In the latter case, the lack of discovery available in mediation can waste valuable time and hamper your efforts to get timely proof.
A qualified family law attorney can help you through the mediation process and beyond. Every divorce case is different; you need someone on your side to promote your interests and help you make the right decisions for you.