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Mediation

OVERVIEW OF THE DIVORCE MEDIATION PROCESS

What is Divorce Mediation?

Typically, divorce is resolved when the divorcing parties go through formal litigation. They obtain attorneys and go to court, where a judge determines the outcome. This process can last for years and cost thousands of dollars of attorney’s fees. Some divorcing parties elect to resolve their problems through a faster, less expensive method of dispute resolution, where the parties attend mediation. Mediation allows the divorcing parties to sit down with a neutral third party, called a mediator, who will help the parties reach resolution of all the issues of their divorce. Most usually, the divorcing parties are more satisfied with the result when they attend mediation.

Benefits of Divorce Mediation

  • Increase satisfaction with outcome

  • Reduce impact on children

  • Spend far less money to complete case

  • Resolve the case more quickly

  • Retain control and participate directly in the process

  • End the case with a better relationship with former spouse

  • Experience less stress than court

Mandatory Divorce Mediation Requirement

Beginning in May 2005, the Utah courts required that when an answer is filed in response to a divorce petition, the divorcing parties must mediate all remaining contested issues. This means that all divorcing parties in a divorce are required to attend at least one session of mediation before going forward with litigation. The court maintains a list of certified mediators. Typically, the cost of mediation is divided equally between the parties.

Some divorcing parties may believe their case is not appropriate for mediation, due to excessive levels of conflict between them, concern for physical safety, or inability of a party to adequately express himself or herself during the process. Under these circumstances, the court may excuse the parties from participating in mediation.

Why is Divorce Mediation Required?

The courts are very busy, and requiring divorcing parties to attend mediation helps take some of the burden off the courts. Further, because mediation encourages collaborative problem solving, it helps divorcing parties attain results that are more satisfactory to both of them. Mediation also encourages the sharing of information and successful implementation of parenting agreements to ensure a reduced impact on the children. Mediation helps the parties reach a resolution that focuses on their common interests.

How much does mediation cost?

Most mediations involve an hourly or per-session fee. The number of sessions required to discuss options and negotiate an agreement will vary based on the complexity of the case and the willingness of each party to work toward an agreement, so the cost of the mediation will also vary. Mediation, however, will almost always be much less costly than adversarial litigation. A divorce mediator in private practice might charge anywhere from $100 to several hundred dollars an hour, depending on where the mediator practices. A typical divorce mediation might be completed in as little as two hours, though many could take an entire day or more.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the purpose of divorce mediation?

The purpose of divorce mediation is to allow divorcing parties a faster, less expensive and more participatory process to resolve their divorce case. It is a form of alternative dispute resolution that divorcing parties can utilize instead of pursuing litigation in court.

Why should I try divorce mediation instead of just going to trial?

Since mediation has been shown to provide more satisfactory results than litigation, many opt to try this alternative to court. It has also been shown to reduce the cost and duration of a divorce case, as well as allow for increased flexibility to resolve issues. Attempting mediation does not preclude the use of litigation; if the mediation does not work out, the divorcing parties may still go to court.

What is divorce mediation?

Divorce mediation allows the divorcing parties to work with a neutral third party, called a mediator, who will help them resolve the problems of their divorce.

How much does it cost to mediate?

The cost of mediation depends on the complexity of the case, as well as how many issues the parties agree about.

What if one side doesn’t want to mediate?

Mediation is a voluntary process, so it requires the consent of both parties. However, since it is also mandatory that the parties attend at least one session of mediation (unless exempted by the court), most often the court will require that the parties at least attempt to mediate.

What if we don’t reach an agreement?

If the parties don’t reach agreement in mediation, they can either try an additional session or proceed with litigation. Everything discussed in mediation is confidential, and cannot be used later in the court proceedings. However, trying mediation does not limit your options with the court in any way.

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