Court-ordered mediation versus voluntary mediation


Family law mediationIn some divorce or family law matters, the parties ultimately utilize mediation to try to resolve their family law matter.  Meditation can be a positive development that can result in parties avoiding costly litigation from a financial and emotional standpoint.

It’s important to differentiate between court-ordered mediation and voluntary mediation.  There is a difference between how both can come to fruition and ultimately play out.  Many may not fully understand the difference.

With court-ordered mediation, a divorce or family law case has already been filed in court.  The court then enters an order that requires the parties to attend mediation.  The court order generally selects the mediator.

The mediation order generally sets forth how the costs will be allocated and sets the minimum length of time that the parties will have to attempt mediation.  In Missouri, for example, a court can generally only order parties to attend two hours of mediation, but the laws can vary by state.

With voluntary mediation, this can take place before or after a divorce or family law case has been filed.  The parties generally agree in these instances select the mediator.  The parties also generally agree on how payment will be made and can participate as long as they want.

The results and success can vary with both approaches.  In some cases, both approaches can end up being successful.  All things being equal, however, mediation can tend to have more positive results in the opinion of some where mediation is voluntary and the parties both desire to participate.

This is true in many cases because both parties are willing to participate and litigation is not already pending.  Having said that, court-ordered mediation can cause some parties to enter into negotiations when they might not have otherwise.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.

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