What to Expect at Mediation
5 years ago
Mediation is designed to save you the emotional and financial burden of litigation by helping you and the opposing party reach an amicable solution, reduce that to a written agreement or stipulation, and file it along with the necessary paperwork to have the agreement enforced as an order of the court. Many family law clients find that mediation is the best way for them to resolve their differences in a time-efficient, cost-effective manner.
Mediation requires that both sides participate "in good faith." This means that you will give your best effort to reach a solution rather than allowing irrelevant facts, past disagreements, petty differences, revenge, or other emotional defenses interfere with the ultimate outcome. As your attorney, my role in mediation is different that it is in all other areas of your case. Normally, it is my job to be a zealous advocate for you and your interests alone. In mediation, my job is slightly different. While I am still your advocate and advisor, I have an obligation to support negotiations as well. It is my job to help the mediator and the other party negotiate an equitable or mutually beneficial agreement and to encourage you to participate in this process without selling yourself or your interests short.
There are many excellent mediators in Utah. Before going to mediation, the parties' attorneys will mutually agree on one. The mediator's fees are divided evenly between the parties and are due in-full at the end of the mediation. Most mediations last at least four hours. Some mediators ask for copies of documents before the mediation, other just start with a summary of the issues by the parties' attorneys at the beginning of the session.
Contrary to depictions of mediation on TV and in the movies, once the mediation begins, we are almost never in the same room as the opposing party. This reduces conflict and allows each party to caucus privately with their attorney. The mediator shuttles back and forth between the two parties. The mediator will only tell the other party information and settlement offers specifically authorized for disclosure. The mediator is legally and ethically bound to remain neutral throughout the process and cannot later be used as a witness by either party. Additionally, all discussions, proposals, and offers made during mediation are confidential and cannot be used later in litigation between the parties.
If parties cannot come to a resolution at the end of mediation, but believe the process could still be fruitful, they can schedule a second mediation. Otherwise, the parties will have to continue through the litigation process to resolve their issues.
If you have any questions about the mediation process, please contact our office at 801-649-3529.