Mediation Before Modification Provisions in Divorce Decrees
In most divorce decrees these days a provision is included that requires the parties to enter into a mediation to settle any disputes before going to court. Mediation is an informal
process of dispute resolution. Each party meets with a mediator who then will try to broker a deal between the parties. The key to mediation is that each party must be willing to give up something in order to reach a compromise. Mediation can be a very effective and efficient way to resolves problems between divorced parties. When the parties are stubborn and not willing to compromise mediation is a waste of time. Most of our clients approach mediation with an eye toward settling, but every once in a while we’ll have someone who is simply unwilling to compromise on any issue, and it makes mediation a waste of time and money.
It is for the reason of how effective mediation can be that mediation provisions are so often included in divorce decrees these days. In the past they have been more willing to overlook it when parties ignore this type of provision, but not anymore. Courts are becoming more stringent on this issue. In fact, you may run the risk of actually getting sanctioned (penalized) by the court if you go to court without fulfilling your obligation to mediate.
We often recommend that our clients include these provisions in their divorce decrees because the cost of going to court is typically much more expensive. At the same time, however, there are instances where mediation can actually make the cost of the overall process much more expensive because the parties know they aren’t going to compromise and are not going to settle, which leaves the court as the only option for resolving the dispute between the parties.
If you have a mediation provision in your decree of divorce make sure you abide by it so you don’t run the risk of having the court impose sanctions and so you don’t waste your time going to court only to have the court tell you to go to mediation.