Mediation is part of a system of alternative dispute resolution. This means that there is an opportunity to settle your divorce outside of the regular court process. This can result in spending less money and dealing with less stress. Here, we highlight some of the things you need to know about mediation as well as how you can prepare for it.
1. Is mediation required in my case?
Probably. Outside of extenuating circumstances, Utah is a mandatory mediation state. This means that unless the court finds a good reason to excuse it, every case will go to mediation.
Mediation is used because it provides an opportunity for communication and information sharing between the parties in a divorce. It is less adversarial and allows the parties to focus on the common goal of resolving the case.
2. How much does mediation cost?
As with most things in your case, it depends on the circumstances. The cost of the mediator is usually split between the parties. The hourly rate of the mediator can range from $100-$250. The parties can also apply for financial assistance from the court if they are unable to afford a mediator.
3. Is the mediator assigned to my case?
No, the parties can pick any court qualified mediator. If the parties have legal representation, counsel will usually come to an agreement on a mediator.
4. How long will we be in mediation?
Mediation can last for a half-day or a whole day, depending on the complexity of the case.
5. Can I have a friend or family member come with me?
Mediation is usually between the parties of the case. However, you can have a “support person.” If you are planning to bring a support person, it needs to be someone who can keep a level head and help you make tough decisions.
6. What if we can’t come to an agreement?
If the parties don’t agree at mediation, the case is referred back to the court. There will usually be a hearing to decide custody and support while the case is ongoing. Then, the parties will work toward trial. Many times, cases go back to a second mediation after being frustrated by the litigation process.
7. What are the benefits of mediation?
Per the Utah court’s website, some of the benefits of mediation are:
- You directly participate in finding solutions to the issues in dispute
- You can resolve your case more quickly
- It’s less expensive
- The process promotes relationships and you will end the process with a better relationship with your former spouse
- It is less stressful than court
8. What if my ex-spouse and I don’t get along?
This is expected in most cases. First, the mediator is a neutral third party and won’t take sides. Most mediations are handled with the parties in different rooms with their legal counsel. The mediator will work to deal with the issues of the case and keep things on track.
9. How do I prepare?
This is where having a legal coach can be very valuable. You should have exchanged financial documents ahead of time, which will give you a reasonable expectation of child support and alimony. It can be helpful to have a list of issues that you want to make sure are addressed during mediation. This is a situation where an ounce of prevention and preparation can be worth a pound of cure.
At Utah Legal Coach, we can represent you in your mediation or spend some time coaching you before the mediation and help you prepare an outline. Book an appointment today so that you can be confident and prepared.