Read LawAugust 17, 2021
Your Guide to Divorce Mediation in Utah
Are you considering getting divorced in Utah, or have you already started the process? If so, the thought of entering mediation to help you and your spouse resolve your disputes may have crossed your mind. When you think about mediation, you may be intimidated. It is easy to be uncertain about the unknown. Many residents of Salt Lake City and elsewhere in Utah are not familiar with the mediation process. Learning more about mediation can help you understand how you can use this process for your benefit during the divorce process.
Understanding the Divorce Mediation Process
You may be concerned that the mediator will automatically side with your spouse. However, mediators are professionals, and they act as unbiased, neutral third parties. In other words, they will try to understand each person’s point of view without siding with only one spouse. Using a mediator in a divorce case can be highly advantageous. The mediator will do their best to help the divorcing spouse have agreed on divisive issues.
Mediators have training that helps them assist people in divisive, inflammatory, and difficult situations. They will ask questions, call for short breaks when necessary, and guide the discussion, keeping it as professional and safe as possible. Agreeing will help everyone involved, including the two spouses and any minor children. Remember that the mediator will not make decisions for you. Instead, the mediator acts as a messenger or referee between the two parties to guide them toward resolution.
Types of Cases That Can be Mediated
Mediation is a versatile process. Nearly any issue related to Utah divorces can be effectively mediated. Some of the most common issues addressed in mediation include the following:
- Child custody issues
- Division of assets and debts
- Child support arrangements
- Alimony and child support
- Out of state moves
- Life insurance agreements
- Tax considerations
- Family business disputes
- Parenting plans
The Difference Between Arbitration and Mediation
Arbitration and mediation are two different processes. The arbitration process is typically more formal. Arbitrators consider each party’s legal rights and any legal wrongs that have been made. Arbitrators decide the outcome of the dispute. Arbitration is more like a judge deciding a court case, except the process does not occur in a courtroom. There is typically a losing and winning party in the arbitration.
On the contrary, in mediation, the mediator does not attempt to resolve the dispute or decide for the parties involved. Instead, the mediator helps the parties solve problems on their own terms. The mediator does not make a decision himself or herself about what should happen. Mediation is also less formal than arbitration.
How Long Does the Mediation Process Take?
As with many issues, the time mediation takes depends on the facts in your unique case. The actual mediation process could only take a day of your time. However, Utah courts will not grant a divorce until 90 days have passed from filing the divorce petition. During those 90 days, you may need to attend mediation multiple times to agree on outstanding issues.
In some instances, the mediation process can be sped along. To do so, the judge overseeing the case will need to sign off on the necessary paperwork. In many cases, mediations can take between one and eight weeks. During the mediation process, both spouses will meet with the mediator and discuss their goals regarding the divorce. When significant financial assets are involved, the timeframe for mediation will be longer. Likewise, when both parties cannot come to any type of mutual agreement on how they would like to divide their assets, the mediation process can be longer.
Is My Case Too Difficult for Mediation?
If you are involved in a highly divisive divorce process, you may be concerned that your case will not qualify for mediation. However, mediators are experienced in handling complicated divorce cases. The mediator will step in and provide an unbiased opinion, helping both parties come to a mutual agreement that benefits everyone. Regardless of how complex or challenging the divorce case is, a mediator can still help. Even if you are not able to resolve every issue you disagree on, you may resolve one or two essential issues that will help move the process forward.
The Benefits of Mediation
The main advantage of going through mediation during a divorce is that it allows the divorce process to move forward more quickly. Suppose you want to go to mediation during the 90-day waiting period, and you can resolve your issues. In that case, you will be able to finalize your divorce quickly once the waiting period is complete. Another benefit of mediation is that it costs less than going to court. When you take your divorce case to court, you and your spouse will need to pay legal fees, pay for expert witnesses, and other expenses related to the trial.
The cost associated with a divorce trial can exceed $10,000, especially if significant assets are involved. If the divorce is highly contested, it could cost even more. Mediation is a relatively inexpensive way for all parties to resolve their issues before appearing in front of a judge. It is possible that the mediator will take your settlement before the judge, and you will not have to appear in court unless the judge subpoenas you, which rarely happens. Staying out of court will save you money, and it will also help you and your family transition to your new normal without the stress of a trial.
Discuss Mediation With a Utah Divorce Lawyer
At Read & Read, we work diligently to assist our clients in resolving divorce-related conflict in a way that efficiently meets their goals and needs. We are mindful of the emotional and financial toll divorce can take our clients. If you are considering filing for divorce in Utah, our law firm is here to help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about our services.