In Utah, all domestic civil actions require mediation before going to trial. You will also be required to attend mediation before any contested probate matter. Courts have become increasingly congested with civil matters. A Divorce trial typically requires 1-2 days. With well over 10,000 divorces filed every year, You can imagine how congested the Court system would become if every single case went to trial.
To resolve this problem, the Utah Legislature requires that all parties attend mediation. In reality, a good divorce attorney will be able to anticipate with a high degree of accuracy how your case will turn out. Mediation provides parties with the opportunity to resolve their case relatively quickly.
A mediator acts as a bridge of communication between the parties. Typically, mediation starts with both parties in separate rooms. The mediator will discuss his or her role and explain that mediation is a confidential process. After that, the parties will tell the mediator what he or she wants to accomplish.
Some mediators in Utah like to get a background of the parties first. Your attorney will be asked to prepare a summary of the issues for the mediator. It is generally our practice not to use clients’ money to prepare a summary. I have found that in most circumstances they are unnecessary.
Depending on the number and complexity of the issues, mediation may last anywhere from 1-8 hours or more. I have participated in mediations that go late into the evening. I have learned that it is rarely productive for mediation to extend beyond 3-4 hours. If you have not reached a deal by then, it may not be worthwhile to continue to spend money when you are not getting anywhere.
Most mediators charge between $150.00 and $250.00. Some mediators have expertise in a particular field and will charge much more. For example, if you have a complex family business that needs to be divided, you may consider highering a mediator with a background in business law.
Your divorce attorney should be able to help you find the right mediator. In my experience, more than half of cases settle at or before mediation. All but the remaining two percent settle after mediation but before going to trial.
If you need assistance with divorce mediation, do not hesitate to give us a call.