Court-Ordered Mediation in Utah: What to Expect
When is court-ordered mediation required in Utah?
In Utah, mediation is only made mandatory by the court when a divorce is filed with contested issues, meaning issues you and your spouse are not in agreement upon. In such cases, the court mandates at least one mediation session, though you are welcome to participate in more if it's helpful for you. However, if after your one mediation session you don't feel it's helpful, the court will move along in the divorce process.
Is there a deadline for when you have to go into mediation?
You are required to select and contact a mediator within 15 days of the respondent filing an answer to the divorce petition. Then, you must begin the process of mediation within 45 days.
In cases where mediation is mandatory, you must hire a mediator who has been approved by the Utah State Courts. You can refer to this roster to find one in your area.
Who chooses the mediator?
Both parties are responsible for selecting and paying the mediator, which is to be split equally between the two unless otherwise ordered by the court or an alternative arrangement is agreed to by both parties. If you can't afford the costs associated with mediation, you might qualify for financial assistance by filling out this form.
When children are involved, court-ordered mediation is encouraged to be completed early on so that issues can be resolved in favor of more effective shared parenting. Of note, if there is an allegation of domestic abuse and one of you objects to mediation, the Court cannot force you to mediate. There are mediators trained to handle the complexity of these situations, but it would be up to you to decide in that case whether you feel that you can safely attend mediation.
For additional help, please call the Utah Divorce Mediation Help Line at 1-800-620-6318
Mediation is less costly than going to trial, and you can choose to pay to hire an attorney or not. If you choose to hire attorneys, it costs less for them to prepare for mediation than it does for trial, which results in less cost for you. Additionally, it is informal, typically less stressful, and a quicker and more efficient way to resolve the issues when compared to going to court. Mediation can be held with both spouses and the mediator at the same time, or the mediator can be a go-between.
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