In some cases, divorcing spouses cannot agree on one or more aspects of their divorce settlement after the case has gone to court. The judge may order the couple to undergo mediation sessions to resolve the issue before the case can continue. Most court-ordered mediation sessions involve a dispute in custody or visitation issues, but can also be issued for problems with property or finances.

Differences in Court-Ordered and Private Divorce Mediation

Although the processes of court-ordered mediation and private mediation are largely the same, there are a few important differences. For instance:

  • Fees. Private mediators usually charge for their services, but if mediation is court-ordered, you and your spouse will usually not have to pay a fee for these sessions.
  • Mediator. The court may assign you a mediator to resolve the dispute rather than letting you and your spouse choose a mediator to help you.
  • Confidentiality. The mediator in court-ordered sessions will have to give a report to the judge about what took place in mediation, while most private mediation sessions remain confidential.
  • Topics. You and your spouse can discuss all aspects of your divorce in private mediation, while your court-ordered sessions will likely be limited to resolving the issue at-hand.
  • Options. Some spouses work better when they are not in the same room together, choosing to have a mediator go between rooms to reach a decision. However, your appointed mediator may be more concerned with completing the task than using a method of mediation that works best for you.

As you can imagine, court-ordered mediation can disrupt the progress of your case, delaying the divorce until you and your ex reach an agreement. The best option for disagreeing couples is to seek mediation before their case is heard in court. If you and your spouse need legal help to make a tough decision, fill out the short consult form on this page and we will contact you shortly.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington