Family Law Mediation Attorneys in Salt Lake City Valley and Park City, Utah
Mediation can be an effective option for many families in Utah, and it offers a streamlined route toward dispute resolution. Mediation can help resolve numerous family law issues while reducing legal fees. It can also provide a more expedited resolution process compared to litigation. In addition, many family members appreciate the increased level of privacy. Finally, mediation can feel like a more civilized approach to conflict resolution compared to high-pressure trials, allowing the entire family to benefit from less stress.
If you would like to learn more about how mediation can help with your specific family law issues, be sure to get in touch with experienced family law mediation attorneys in Park City and Salt Lake City.
Choose the woman-owned family law firm, Just Law Utah, to discuss your issues in more detail, ask questions, and take your first steps toward conflict resolution. Although internet research may provide an overview of family law mediation, each case is slightly different. Here at Just Law, we strategize an individual resolution plan that meets you and your families’ specific needs.
The Basics of Mediation
Mediation is an alternative to the traditional litigation process. Most people in Utah are more familiar with litigation due to depictions in film and television. When family law issues are litigated, it means that they are resolved through a trial in court. Both parties will have the chance to make their case in front of a judge, which may entail presenting evidence or calling upon witnesses. Some trials involve serious accusations of wrongdoing, such as domestic violence or financial misconduct. There may be an incentive to establish these forms of misconduct in order to gain an advantage in the divorce.
In contrast, mediation is almost never depicted in movies or television because it is much less dramatic. This process is also much less formal, and it takes place behind closed doors with both spouses present. In addition, a mediator facilitates negotiations and discussions between spouses. The mediator plays the role of a referee, a neutral and they try to create a fair outcome for both parties.
The end goal is to create a resolution to the legal issues. In the case of a divorce, this might end in a divorce settlement agreement or what is otherwise known as a stipulation. This legal document contains all of the various agreements that spouses have made on subjects like custody, alimony, property division, and child support. Sometimes, mediation covers other topics within family law. For example, mediation can help resolve a specific issue related to child custody, such as the modification of a child custody agreement. Mediation is also a great venue to resolve financial disputes.
The signed agreements that emerge from the mediation process are legally binding. After the agreements have been drafted and signed by both parties, the signed agreement is filed with the Court. Thereafter, one of the attorneys involved drafts what are called the “Final Documents.” One of the most important documents contained in the “Final Documents” is, for example, the Decree of Divorce or Custody. The Decree is submitted to the Judge for signature and becomes the final Order in the case.
What are the Advantages of Mediation?
Mediation offers many advantages. While some of these advantages depend on the specific type of legal issue being resolved, there are some universal benefits to consider:
- Mediation is far less expensive compared to litigation.
- Mediation usually offers faster resolutions compared to litigation.
- Mediation may reduce feelings of bitterness and resentment between spouses.
- Mediation is inherently private, while litigation goes on public record.
- Mediation may offer better mental health outcomes for family members – especially children.
- Mediation, as opposed to the court room, is a creative space where unique outcomes can be reached.
- Most cases settle in mediation, yours should be no different!
Who Can Act as a Mediator?
Mediators play a vital role in the mediation process, and the success of this process often depends on the quality and experience of the mediator. Here at Just Law, our attorneys throughout the years have worked with the best mediators in the State of Utah. Our attorneys will make sure the mediator that is chosen for your case is the right fit for your specific needs. This is why many family members choose family law mediation attorneys in Park City and Salt Lake City who approach the mediation process with qualifications, experience, and legal knowledge.
The most important feature of a mediator is their unbiased nature. The lack of bias toward any particular party is crucial, as each family member cannot turn to their own lawyer. Therefore, the mediator must protect the best interests of all parties involved. Often, this may seem like an extremely delicate balancing act, especially since many biases occur on a subconscious level. Often, mediators must become aware of and challenge their own underlying biases. In summary, virtually anyone can become a mediator – but the process of facilitating a productive mediation can be challenging.
We can represent you and your family in all aspects of divorce and mediation, including:
- Real estate division.
- Asset division.
- Child support.
- Life and health insurance division.
- Child Custody
- Prenuptial Agreement
- Protection Orders
Mediation vs. Collaborative Law
Mediation is not the only option for those who wish to avoid litigation. Another choice is collaborative law. While this option is quite similar to mediation, there are several important differences. When spouses choose collaborative law, they work with family law attorneys instead of a mediator. Each spouse is represented by their own separate family law attorney in these discussions. The role of the attorney is to protect the best interests of their client while simultaneously facilitating civilized, productive negotiations. Experienced collaborative law attorneys may encourage their clients to compromise or express their desires in a more flexible manner.
Mediation vs. Court
One of the most important distinctions between mediation and the courtroom is that you, the client, the mother, the father, the spouse maintain control. You decide the outcome in mediation. In court, you lose all control. In the case of a child custody issue, the Commissioner or Judge, someone who has never met you, who reads pleadings filed on your behalf in your case and sees you for maybe 30 minutes to one hour in court, makes a decision that forever impacts not only your life, but most importantly, the life of your children. In mediation, you make the decisions. Mediation is all about meeting in the middle and coming up with a resolution that will work best for you and your children. Mediation is about making a decision that allows you to move forward in a way that best suits your family.
What if Mediation Fails?
If mediation fails, spouses and/or parents may have no choice but to pursue litigation instead. This is why many spouses/parents work diligently to compromise and cooperate during negotiations. These people know that if the negotiations fail, they will encounter legal costs and additional delays due to the litigation process.
That being said, mediation sometimes fails even when one individual is highly committed to productive discussions. The other party may be stubborn and unwilling to compromise.
Who Might Benefit From Mediation?
Virtually every case can potentially benefit from mediation. That being said, there are some individuals who may be especially attracted to this prospect. For example, those who wish to keep the details of their divorces away from the public may choose mediation due to its private nature. Spouses can even sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to further enforce this degree of privacy. Politicians, public figures, business leaders, and many others may want to keep these details private to protect their reputations and business interests. Certain financial disclosures during the divorce may cause a range of issues for Utah residents if they become public.
Mediation is also a popular choice among spouses who have financial limitations. Divorce is becoming increasingly expensive for spouses in the United States, and mediation is an obvious way to reduce legal fees. Unfortunately, many spouses choose to remain together because they simply cannot afford to divorce. If spouses can work out their differences in a short amount of time, the cost of a mediated divorce can be very affordable.
In addition, spouses who want to move on as quickly as possible often opt for mediation. While a litigated divorce can last for months or even years, it is theoretically possible for a mediated divorce to be resolved within a matter of weeks (not including the 30-day mandatory waiting period for divorcing spouses in Utah).
Finally, some have argued that mediation is easier to handle for children in divorces. The logic is that if children witness their parents working together in a productive manner instead of fighting in court, they may feel more encouraged about the future. However, many child psychologists have challenged this notion in recent years. Whatever the case may be, many family members state that mediation was a relatively stress-free experience for them. Mediation is also a creative space to come up with unique solution for complex financial issues.
Utah’s Divorce Mediation Program
While it’s true that mediation offers many advantages compared to litigation, spouses in Utah might not actually have a choice as to whether they attempt this route. The state’s mandatory divorce mediation requirement states that, in a contested divorce, spouses must participate in at least one mediation session before they can move forward with trial. This means that virtually every contested divorcing couple experiences the mediation process in Utah.
Note that the state does not actually provide any mediation services to spouses. Spouses are required to seek out mediators on their own, and they must divide the cost of mediation equally. In rare situations, spouses may ask the state for financial assistance. Spouses with financial limitations may be assigned a mediator who provides services free of charge.