Court Ordered Mediation

Mediation is often described as an alternative to court or hiring lawyers. Couples who can work together with a mediator don't need to enter a courtroom to solve problems. They reach a settlement agreement on their own. 

Court-ordered mediation is different. Couples with active cases must discuss their differences in meetings facilitated by mediators. The compromises they craft are returned to the court and become part of a judge's final ruling in the case. 

Key facts about court-ordered mediation 

  • Mediation can be deployed in almost any kind of court case, including those stemming from personal injuries or human resources. Of all the people participating in mediation, 94% say the process was fair
  • Some people pay for mediation services, and if they work with an expensive mediator, the costs can be high. Of people using mediation, 88% said the benefits outweighed the costs
  • In all forms of mediation, anyone can leave the process. If both parties can’t agree, the matter can always be taken to court. Mediation ends in agreement up to 80% of the time, and people tend to keep the promises they make.
  • In a 2008 study, researchers found that more than 60% of people who walked away from the last mediation offer would have been better served by accepting it. They lost money, time, or opportunities by going to court. 

How does court-ordered mediation work?

Multiple forms of mediation exist, but most mediators follow a standard process when working with their clients. 

Mediation typically follows these steps:

  • Interviews: Mediators talk to both parties and gather information pertinent to the case. 
  • Introduction: Parties come to a safe, secure location. The mediator outlines the process and identifies the issues the couple should address. 
  • Identification: The mediator finds areas of commonality between the two parties and highlights the differences. 
  • Negotiation: The couples discuss their proposed solutions and look for ways to come together. Sometimes, couples move into separate rooms, and the mediator goes between them. 
  • Finalization: When the couples agree, the mediator helps them to write an agreement. Both parties sign it. 

Hello Divorce offers online mediation services nationwide. Purchase a session today and resolve those tough issues.

When do courts order couples into mediation?

Courts typically like cases to move briskly, and the need for speed is very acute as states work through COVID-related court backlogs. In California, for example, half as many cases were resolved between March and August 2020 as in the same span in 2019. Mediation can help couples come to terms, so their cases can progress. 

Almost any court in the United States could order quarreling couples into mediation to resolve problems quickly and amicably. 

But states like Oregon require couples to enter mediation if they're grappling with problems relating to custody and parenting time. The goal of the court is to get the situation resolved as quickly as possible.

How much does court-ordered mediation cost?

Mediators are trained professionals, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says they make about $50,000 per year. Someone must pick up the tab, but who pays can vary from state to state.

Some states that require mediation from all couples facing similar circumstances cover those costs. In Oregon, for example, couples entering mediation due to childcare issues won't face bills at the end of the sessions. 

Some states, including Nevada, have legal aid societies with a sliding scale for couples needing mediation. People with small incomes pay less than others do. And people on public assistance don't pay fees at all with written proof of income.

But some states require couples to cover the entire cost of mediation regardless of income level or the reason they need help.

Your lawyer or the judge should explain the fees to you. And if you can't pay, talk to the court about the problem and ask for help. In some cases, the court will offer assistance to make the situation possible for you financially.

Interested in trying mediation to help your divorce along? Hello Divorce offers affordable hourly online mediation services

How to prepare for court-ordered mediation

Much of the work in mediation happens during the discussion. But if you can walk into this meeting prepared, you'll be more likely to get what you want in the divorce settlement

You should do the following ahead of time:

  • Gather supporting documents, such as bills and assessments 
  • Identify how you'd like the problem solved 
  • Get a good night's sleep to arrive well-rested 

You should not do the following:

  • Fixate on winning and getting 100% of what you ask for 
  • Nurse your grudges and anger 
  • Ask people to come with you

Your mediator should offer advice on how to prepare for the talk and what to bring to it. If you have questions before the discussion, ask them. 



ADR Program Report: Fiscal Year 2019. (February 2020). United States District Court, Northern District of California. 
Mediation Advantages. (September 2019). American Bar Association. 
Making the Right Decision at Mediation. (February 2009). Plaintiff Magazine. 
Mediation Processes. (September 2019). American Bar Association. 
Justice Delayed: Courts Overwhelmed by Pandemic Backlog. (March 2022). Cal Matters. 
Child Custody and Parenting Time Mediation. Oregon Judicial Branch. 
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators. (October 2022). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Family Mediation Center. Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
Divorce Specialists
After spending years in toxic and broken family law courts, and seeing that no one wins when “lawyer up,” we knew there was an opportunity to do and be better. We created Hello Divorce to the divorce process easier, affordable, and completely online. Our guiding principles are to make sure both spouses feel heard, supported, and set up for success as they move into their next chapter in life.