The State of Utah and most other states require that divorcing parties attend at least one hour of mediation in an effort to try to work out some of their contested issues in the divorce matter. Contested issues can include: child custody (type of custody), the parenting plan, child support (who will pay), relocation provisions, division of personal property, division of real property, division of retirement accounts, and the allocation of debts. If your spouse is the disagreeable type that engages in the bad practice of yelling and screaming at you in private; then mediation, where both a mediator and your attorney can be present during the mediation session, is a good time to bring up any disputed issues. It is a good chance that with two other people present, your spouse will act more calmly and be ready to discuss the issues at hand.
It is important that the parties choose a qualified mediator who will work to resolve the issues in dispute between the parties during the mediation session. Mediators typically have special training in conflict dispute resolution and/or alternative dispute resolution (also known generally as ADR) which qualifies them to take a mediator role. Mediators usually carry an additional title such as paralegal, a former judge, and/or even an attorney. Mediators are qualified to do what they do as long as they meet the state’s criteria to carry the title of “mediator.” The beginning of working out the contested issues in your divorce matter can actually start with the both of you agreeing on a qualified mediator to mediate your contested issues. If you are represented by an attorney, an attorney can make all of those arrangements for you as part of your legal representation fees. This is truly an ideal arrangement, especially if you are busy in a career and the divorce is emotionally draining for you.
It is of particular importance that your attorney be present during the mediation session to assist you in understanding what agreements you can agree to that would be in your best interest and those that would not. This way, your best legal interest is protected. Also of importance is how the mediation session works. Some people have the perception that, during the mediation session, they will meet in the same room as their spouse and their spouse’s attorney. However, many mediators, to avoid unpleasant situations, will often position the parties in separate rooms. The mediator will go over the contested issues with one party and then present that party’s position on those issues to the other party and/or their attorney. The other party and their attorney have the right to counteroffer any proposal where the mediator will then present it to you for both you and your attorney’s consideration. Your attorney can then help you understand if it is in your best legal interest to accept the proposal or if it is in your best legal interest to reject the proposal and still be able to take a winning stance on that issue in court.
Typically, at the end of or after a mediation session, the mediator will prepare what is known as a Memorandum of Understanding. This Memorandum of Understanding outlines the date of the mediation session, the location, who was present, the issues that were resolved, and the issues that were not resolved. Typically, each party to the case and their attorney receives a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding from the mediator. A copy is also filed with the court so that the court is informed as to what issues in dispute have been resolved and what issues are still unresolved between the parties. The cost for the mediation session is typically split between the
parties and can run from $30.00 per hour all the way up to $400.00 per hour, depending on the mediator’s qualifications and experience. The cost may seem overwhelming when you are going through a divorce, but it is important to keep in mind that a good mediator, who can accurately
negotiate the contested issues, and a good attorney, who will watch out for your best legal interest, are both a really good investment. If they both do their jobs and do their jobs effectively, it is a sure chance that you will save money in the long run as the contested issues are resolved and become uncontested, before the divorce matter goes to trial. The experienced family law attorneys at JLJ Law Group, PLLC would be happy to represent your best legal interest during the course of your divorce matter, to include the required mediation session. Please contact the firm, at your earliest convenience, to schedule your consultation appointment. All inquiries will be held in the strictest confidence.