Spouses in Utah quickly learn that divorce is inherently adversarial, especially when one spouse feels wronged by the other. Nevertheless, even contentious divorces can make positive progress through alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation. In mediation, you and your spouse meet with a trained, neutral third party who facilitates negotiations on the major issues in a divorce. In the end, the settlement is not the work of a judge, but of you and your spouse listening and compromising.
Mediation has many benefits. It can be faster, cheaper and result in a more mutually agreeable settlement than going to trial. Often it results in more cordial post-divorce relationships. However, mediation is not always the most appropriate course of action for every divorcing couple. In some cases, it is in the best interests of one or both spouses to take the divorce to the courtroom.
Evaluate your situation
The crux of a successful mediation is that both spouses must be willing and committed to reaching a fair settlement and not just getting even or getting everything they want. Some spouses are simply not able to get past their emotions so they can calmly come to terms. If your marriage has any of the following factors, you may wish to seek the advice of your lawyer about the most prudent method of divorce for your situation:
- Your spouse refuses to agree to the divorce or to mediation, which means he or she is likely to stonewall the process.
- You or your spouse have already decided not to compromise on certain matters just as a matter of retribution.
- You believe your spouse is hiding assets, in which case the discovery phase of a divorce trial will be critical to obtaining a fair division of assets.
- You are the victim of spousal abuse or of a controlling spouse who may make it difficult for you to feel safe or speak up for yourself during negotiations.
- Allegations of child abuse may surface during mediation, which, by law, will require the mediator to report it to the authorities.
If these or other circumstances exist, mediation may not be for you and may, in fact, be unsafe since mediation takes place in a private place and not in a public courtroom. However, it is always wise to seek legal counsel as early as possible in your divorce proceedings so you can obtain knowledgeable advice based on experience.