Does My State Require Me to Participate in Divorce Mediation?
Many issues surface in divorce, including what to do with the marital property you and your former spouse shared and how to navigate child custody, child visitation, and spousal support/alimony issues.
Sometimes, divorcing couples easily decide who should get the marital home, the car, the fine china, and the dog. They know exactly how they want to split parenting time and responsibilities, and they draft a co-parenting schedule without help from an outside source.
Other times, the process isn’t so easy. After all, divorcing couples aren’t always on the best of terms. They may find it hard to speak to each other at all, let alone discuss and compromise on big-ticket issues.
Conflict resolution through mediation
That’s where mediation comes in. Led by a neutral third party – a mediator – divorcing spouses work together to make decisions about everything from who stays in the family home to who gets legal custody of the kids.
Mediation is sometimes required by the state
A handful of states make divorce mediation mandatory. In many states, the court has the discretion to decide whether a divorcing couple must try mediation. When mediation is required by law or by a judge, it is sometimes free or provided at a discount.
Does my state require mediation before divorce?
You may be wondering if your state requires you to participate in mediation before divorce. Here is a quick guide to what each state has to say about divorce-related mediation*. Note that this guide is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.
- Alabama: According to the Alabama Mandatory Mediation Act, mediation is often required.
- Alaska: Court-sponsored mediation is available but not always required.
- Arizona: Mediation is required in some jurisdictions in some cases.
- Arkansas: Mediation is sometimes required by the court in Arkansas.
- California: Family court mediation is sometimes required in California divorce, particularly when issues regarding minor children cannot be resolved.
- Colorado: Although mediation is considered voluntary by the state of Colorado, judges in individual counties often order it.
- Connecticut: Mediation is sometimes required before a divorce goes to trial in Connecticut.
- Delaware: Mediation is required in some, but not all, divorce cases in Delaware.
- District of Columbia: Mediation is free in the District of Columbia.
- Florida: Mediation is sometimes ordered by the court for divorces in Florida.
- Georgia: Mediation is sometimes ordered by the court for divorces in Georgia.
- Hawaii: Courts in Hawaii offer mediation as a method of alternative dispute resolution.
- Idaho: Child custody and visitation disputes in Idaho must be mediated. Otherwise, it is available but not required.
- Illinois: Mediation is sometimes required for divorces with parenting disputes in Illinois.
- Indiana: Mediation is required before contested divorce in many Indiana counties.
- Iowa: Couples are sometimes required to participate in mediation in Iowa.
- Kansas: Mediation is sometimes mandated in Kansas divorce.
- Kentucky: Mediation is sometimes ordered by the court in Kentucky divorce.
- Louisiana: Mediation is sometimes ordered by the court in Louisiana. The court may cover part of the cost.
- Maine: Mediation is sometimes required for divorces in Maine.
- Maryland: Divorcing couples may be required to attempt mediation in Maryland, though they will not be required to reach a resolution.
- Massachusetts: Mediation is voluntary in Massachusetts divorce.
- Michigan: A judge may order a couple to attempt mediation before going to trial in Michigan divorce.
- Minnesota: In Minnesota, mediation before divorce is usually required.
- Mississippi: Mediation is not often required before divorce in Mississippi, though it is often encouraged.
- Missouri: Mediation is sometimes required before divorce in Missouri, especially if there are unresolved parenting issues.
- Montana: Divorcing couples are sometimes required to participate in mediation in Montana.
- Nebraska: Mediation is sometimes required by the court for divorce involving children in Nebraska.
- Nevada: Mediation is sometimes required for dispute resolution in Nevada divorce.
- New Hampshire: Mediation is often, but not always, required in divorces involving children in New Hampshire.
- New Jersey: Mediation is often, but not always, required by the court in New Jersey divorce.
- New Mexico: Mediation is not always required before divorce in New Mexico.
- New York: Mediation is sometimes required by the court in New York divorce.
- North Carolina: In North Carolina, mediation is usually required when custody issues are at stake.
- North Dakota: North Dakota has a family law mediation program which is often used to help divorcing couples resolve disputes related to their children.
- Ohio: Mediation is often required when issues regarding children are at stake in Ohio divorce.
- Oklahoma: Mediation is often, but not always, required in Oklahoma divorce.
- Oregon: Mediation is required before divorce in some Oregon counties.
- Pennsylvania: Although mediation is voluntary in Pennsylvania, couples may be required to attend an orientation that teaches them about the value of mediation.
- Rhode Island: Court-based mediation is free in Rhode Island divorce and is often, though not always, required.
- South Carolina: A form of alternate dispute resolution, including mediation, is usually required in South Carolina divorce.
- South Dakota: Mediation is sometimes, but not always, required by the court in South Dakota divorce.
- Tennessee: Mediation is usually required in Tennessee divorce.
- Texas: Mediation is sometimes required in Texas divorce.
- Utah: Utah imposes a mandatory mediation requirement.
- Vermont: Mediation is sometimes required in Vermont divorce.
- Virginia: Mediation is typically not required for divorce in Virginia.
- Washington: Mediation is not generally required, but it is encouraged in Washington.
- West Virginia: Family court mediation is sometimes ordered in West Virginia divorce.
- Wisconsin: Mediation is often required for divorce in Wisconsin.
- Wyoming: Mediation is sometimes required in Wyoming, though a resolution through mediation is not mandatory.
Mediation is an option for any divorcing couple, and it can be a definite money-saver compared to contested divorce and litigated divorce. While you might pay several hundred dollars to a mediator to help you negotiate your divorce settlement, that’s far less than the thousands of dollars you could spend on divorce attorneys and related court fees.
Hello Divorce offers mediation services at a flat rate so you can budget for it ahead of time. If you’re interested in learning more and would like to speak with one of our knowledgeable account coordinators, schedule a free 15-minute phone call today.