The Sixth Judicial District requires that the parties attend mediation in some domestic relations cases.
WHAT IS MEDIATION?
Mediation is a confidential process in which a neutral third party, selected and paid for by the parties, helps the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement. The mediator has no power to impose a decision on the parties. Mediation is not therapy. In mediation, people focus on future solutions, not past difficulties. Mediation does not try to keep couples together.
WHAT KINDS OF CASES WILL BE ORDERED TO MEDIATION IN THE SIXTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT?
If any request for temporary custody, visitation, or spousal support is made, the court will order mediation before it hears the request. In divorce, custody, and modification cases in the Sixth Judicial District, the court generally requires mediation within sixty (60) days of filing of the petition. Trial will not be scheduled until the parties have participated in mediation or the court has excused them from participation.
WHAT MUST I DO?
You must attend a mediation education class within forty-five (45) days before the legal proceeding begins, and you must participate in the initial mediation session.
WHAT IS THE MEDIATION EDUCATION CLASS?
The Mediation Education class is a one-half (1/2) hour class that introduces the concept of mediation. Classes are held in conjunction with the “Helping Children Cope with Family Transitions” divorce education class.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “PARTICIPATE” IN A MEDIATION SESSION?
Case law limits the word “participate” to the requirement of attendance. See Graham v. Baker, 447 N.W.2d 397 (Iowa 1989). You must attend the initial mediation session in order to meet the requirement that you “participate.” You need not mediate any issue you do not want to, and you may terminate a mediation session at any point for any reason. You may terminate the mediation session by stating that you do not wish to mediate.
WHAT IS A MEDIATION SESSION?
The court will order parties to participate in an initial mediation session and encourages them to continue with mediation so long as the parties make progress. Parties are not required to reach any agreements during mediation and only discuss issues they both want to discuss. Parties should consult with their attorneys before and after the initial mediation session. A party may terminate a mediation session at any point. You and your spouse should submit any memorandum of understanding reached to your attorney for review. DO NOT sign settlement agreements during a mediation session. Do NOT sign a settlement agreement without your attorney reviewing it.
CAN I BE EXCUSED FROM PARTICIPATING IN MEDIATION?
A party may be excused from participating in an ordered mediation session for good cause. Good cause includes, (1) a history of domestic violence or substance abuse; (2) cases where the parties have already contracted for mediation services or have already mediated in connection with the pending petition or application; (3) where the Respondent is genuinely in default; or (4) where the parties have already resolved all issues. If you feel you have good cause for being excused from mediation, speak with your attorney. Regardless of good cause, everyone must participate in the mediation education classes.
WHO SELECTS THE MEDIATOR?
Parties are encouraged to select their own mediator. The parties may agree to and privately retain any person they wish as their mediator. If the parties are unable to agree to a mediator within the time set by the court, the court will appoint a mediator.
WHO PAYS FOR MEDIATION?
Both parties are responsible for the mediator’s payment. Your mediator will have you sign an agreement that governs the fees and terms of the mediation.