Mediation is sometimes ordered by a court, mandated in a contract clause between two parties, or required by state law. If you are going through a contested divorce or child custody modification, you are typically required to attend mediation. The Court often orders contested probate issues, business disputes, and property disputes for mediation. Also, when you sign a standard real estate purchase contract to buy or sell property it includes a mediation clause, unless there is a legal emergency.
What is mediation? Mediation is a facilitated conversation where a neutral third party helps the opposing sides of a legal issue try to find resolution or settle the dispute. For example, if you are going through a divorce and want more parent time with your child, you may be asked to reconsider other parts of the agreement, such as increasing alimony or reducing your share of the retirement accounts.
The mediator is not a judge and does not decide the case. Instead, the mediator helps the parties understand each other’s positions and helps the parties communicate their interests. The mediator is also bound to confidentiality when speaking to a party individually. This means the mediator can only communicate to each party what the other party allows the mediator to communicate.
For example, one party needs alimony to be $400 per month because she is getting a new car. The mediator would share that her alimony amount needs to be $400 per month. The mediator would not share the reasoning for the increased alimony amount.
Why consider mediation? Judges are busy. Our judges in the Sevier, Wayne, Piute, and Garfield Counties, in particular, are very busy with the amount of driving they must accomplish for each court day. Judges value your case but may not have time in court to solve every issue in a meaningful way or be able to hear all of the information about said issue. For example, because of the rules of evidence, judges aren’t allowed to consider your remembrance of statements said by a third party to offer evidence of the truth of the matter asserted, also known as hearsay. However, in mediation, that information and any related concerns can be discussed and considered in finding a resolution.
Many people dislike conflicts. Most people really dislike public conflicts. Disputes between neighbors, friends, family, or within a community can be quietly and confidentially resolved without court involvement through mediation. A mediation may actually meet the realistic needs of the parties. Mediation easily clarifies miscommunications or misunderstandings without starting a full-blown, multi-thousand-dollar lawsuit. If you need a mediator, review the list of court rostered mediators on the Utah court's website. You can find mediators by city. Many mediators will charge for travel, so look for local mediators if you want to conserve costs. Local mediators are in Richfield and Teasdale.
Disclaimer. As always, my column is not legal advice, instead merely insight into the law and legal profession. If you have a general question about the law or legal profession, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 435.610.1431.