After service of summons in an action for divorce, annulment or legal separation involving the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, the court may order the parties to participate in mediation screening. Parties may also participate in mediation prior to or after the filing of a contempt motion for denial of parenting time. If Mediation Services determines that mediation is appropriate for the parties, the parties shall participate in mediation.
The following actions may be exempted from mediation upon the request of any party:
- Cases in which a party does not have the capacity to mediate due to mental illness or domestic violence
- In emergency circumstances requiring an immediate hearing
- Cases in which the parties have achieved an executed Agreed Judgment Entry
- If the parties have previously mediated the matters at issue.
If mediation is appropriate for the parties and the parties agree to or are ordered to mediate, then the parties shall participate in mediation with a court approved mediator. Mediation sessions may be convened from time to time until all issues are resolved in a manner mutually acceptable to the parties or until the mediator determines continued efforts would not be productive. Unless ordered to participate in mediation, the parties may agree to terminate mediation. The Court may order parties to participate in or return to mediation at any time. At the request of the parties or counsel, or upon the court’s own motion, the court may stay the proceedings for mediation for a period of time not to exceed ninety (90) days.
Upon the conclusion of the mediation, the mediator shall notify Mediation Services and/or counsel whether the mediation occurred or was terminated, the parties reached an agreement on all or some issues, and the attendance of the parties. No other information shall be communicated by the mediator to Mediation Services unless all who hold a mediation privilege, including the mediator, have consented to such disclosure. Agreements reached in mediation will not binding upon the parties until reviewed and approved by their counsel and the Court. Discussions occurring in mediation shall not be presented as evidence in a trial if the mediation.
It is typically a good idea to try to work toward an amicable resolution unless you truly believe such an exercise would be a waste of time and financial resources or you are simply uncomfortable with the process. You should communicate your thoughts to your attorney and work closely with her should you decide to enter into mediation. Keep in mind that you can submit voluntarily to private mediation with an attorney or counselor or participate in a settlement conference with counsel to resolve disputes without a court order and even without a court case pending. A magistrate or judge does not know you, your spouse or your children. It should be a last resort to allow the court to decide your future and that of your children.
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