What Can I Expect From Mediation?
Mediation is generally regarded as a positive experience because it helps both sides come to an agreement on the terms of their divorce without the hassle, high cost, and emotional toll of going to trial. It is where the details of alimony, debt and property division, child support, child custody, and more get discussed and hopefully settled. Mediation is required by Utah Law in your divorce case if an "Answer" was filed and there are any remaining contested issues (i.e., you must try mediation before going to trial), unless you are able to get the mediation requirement excused.
Although mediation is a often regarded as the better alternative to trial, it is still a long process, usually lasting between four to eight hours, and it is often emotionally taxing. It is wise to get a good night's rest before a mediation. You will meet with your attorney in a room, separate from the room your spouse is in. The mediator will act as an unbiased, neutral third party who hops from room to room to communicate each spouse's desires, requests, and offers, and to help everyone come to an agreement on the contested issues. Sometimes the mediator will meet in a third room with only the attorneys. The goal of mediation is for the spouses to walk away with a signed, written agreement as to the terms of their divorce decree. If this goal is not reached, the case will go to trial, unless the spouses can otherwise come to an agreement before trial.
You will need to hire the mediator, and he or she will charge you and your spouse half the price each. Mediators usually charge between $100-$300 per hour (so $50-150 per spouse per hour). In total, you can expect to pay at least $200-300 to the mediator, though often more. This is in addition to your attorney fees. If you feel you cannot afford to hire a mediator, financial assistance can be requested through the Divorce Mediation Income Survey.
Although mediation might seem pricey, if all issues are resolved at mediation, it will be much cheaper than going to trial. When a case goes to trial, your attorney typically must spend many hours in preparation, in addition to the hours spent in court. Fortunately, mediation is usually successful and keeps the case out of court.