It is often asked “when should I attend mediation in my case.” Legally, there is no set time you must attend mediation in your case.

In Utah all domestic cases are required to attempt mediation before they will be allowed to proceed to trial before a judge, but that does not tell you when during the litigation process you must attend mediation.

There are many factors that may influence the ability of the parties to reach an agreement at various points in the litigation.  These often include the parties’ emotional states, the gathering of information that would be useful in making decision, and the cost of continuous litigation.

That said there is no time that you must mediate, but there are factors to consider in picking a time to mediate your dispute.

The sooner you attempt mediation, the less money you will spend on attorney’s fees and court costs.

Emotional Considerations

Throughout the litigation process, especially with a divorce or matters regarding children, the parties will experience a roller-coaster of emotions.  Emotions may cloud judgments, interfere with the rational thought process, and could prevent one or both parties from being able to reach a decision regarding the terms of an agreement.

The parties may experience these emotions at the outset of the litigation process or even months to a year after the process begins.  And there is no indicator whether the parties will experience these emotions at the same time.

When you decide to schedule a mediation in your case, consider your own emotions, look at the calendar and see what you have planned professionally and personally that may take away from your ability to concentrate at mediation.

Also, as hard as it may be, try to consider where the other party may be emotionally.  You cannot reach an agreement to this dispute on your own, it will need to be mutual, and so it is to your benefit for them to be emotionally ready to negotiate.  Giving yourself some time to prepare emotionally for a scheduled mediation will greatly increase your chances of reaching an agreement at mediation.

Availability of Information & Documents

Almost every case relies upon some outside information when trying to reach a resolution.  Whether these are bank statements, paycheck stubs, appraisals, or tax returns, decide if you will need any outside information in order to make an informed decision regarding the dispute at hand.  Also, consider whether you can easily obtain this information yourself, whether you will need to request information from the other party, or if you will need to obtain this information from a third party.

Negotiations at mediation will proceed far more smoothly if you have the information needed to make an informed decision.

If you are not sure what information you need, you may also consider attending more than one mediation session.  The first session may be used to determine what information the parties already have or have agreed to, and then to decide what other information will need to be gathered before a final agreement may be reached.

Take a moment when you schedule mediation to think about what information may be needed and if it would be beneficial to have more than one mediation session.

Reducing Cost & Length Of Litigation

Finally, mediation will usually have a significant impact on the cost of the litigation.  The sooner you attempt mediation, and hopefully reach an agreement, the less money you will spend on attorney’s fees and any related court costs.

If you are trying to reduce the costs of litigation, consider attending mediation early to see what terms are already agreeable, and get a list of what issues are not agreeable.  Again, you can always attend more than one mediation session, and an early mediation may significantly reduce the number of issues that have not been agreed upon and the amount of outside information that needs to be gathered.

Remember, there is no set time you must mediate, but consider emotions, the gathering of outside information, and the costs of litigation when you are planning to mediate.

If you are ready to schedule mediation please see the our online scheduling calendar, or feel free to contact us if you have further questions.

Utah Family Law Blog