Mediation is a facilitated negotiation process where a neutral third party mediator works with divorcing spouses to amicably settle contested issues such as property division, child custody and alimony.
In Utah, parties are required to attend mediation before they are permitted to try contested family law issues before a judge. Utah Code Ann. §30-3-39 provides that, “after the filing of an answer to a complaint of divorce, if there are any remaining issues, the parties shall participate in good faith in at least one session of mediation.”
Utah law presumes that solutions agreed to by the parties are preferable to court imposed solutions. The domestic court commissioner assigned to your case may actually require you to attend several mediation sessions before certifying your case for trial. Most cases resolve in mediation or through post-mediation negotiations between attorneys. Although you may be heard by the court for temporary orders, protective orders or objection hearings, family law cases rarely go to trial.
What to expect during mediation
Mediation generally lasts from three to eight hours and can be emotionally draining. You should prepare by reviewing key issues and deciding how much you are willing to negotiate in order to reach a resolution. During mediation, you should focus on creating reasonable solutions that will prevent issues from arising in the future. Keep in mind that, even if the case went to trial, neither party would get everything they want. Divorce, like marriage, requires compromise.
Mediation can be done in a variety of ways. If the parties are comfortable working together, they can mediate in the same room. In such cases, the mediator will introduce issues and each party will have the opportunity to express his/her desires and concerns. Alternatively, parties frequently remain in separate rooms throughout the mediation process. The mediator will confer with one party and put together a settlement proposal. He will then deliver that proposal to the other party, confer with that party and put together a counter-proposal. Using separate rooms to mediate takes more time but avoids many of the emotional issues that can arise when divorcing parties communicate their issues and concerns directly with each other.
A Utah divorce lawyer can assist you in selecting a mediator who is best suited to meet your needs. A lawyer can attend mediation with you to ensure that all of your rights, desires and concerns are sufficiently represented.
Intermountain Legal is located in Salt Lake City, UT and serves clients throughout all of Northern and Central Utah including Salt Lake City, Midvale, Sandy, West Jordan, North Salt Lake, Bountiful, South Jordan, Clearfield, Woods Cross, Draper, Farmington, Centerville, Layton, Ogden, Lehi, Provo, Orem, Park City and Davis, Salt Lake, Weber, Utah, Tooele and Summit counties.