In most family law cases, at some point you will be required to schedule a mediation. The most common way this can happen is by a court order. For example, at the beginning of every family law case in King County, the Case Scheduling Order has a deadline for alternative dispute resolution – usually, this means mediation. In Thurston county the court will not even schedule trial until you prove that you have gone to mediation. A deadline for mediation may also be contained in a Temporary Order or a Pretrial Order.
Failure to meet this deadline has serious consequences. The trial date could be pushed back or rescheduled for several months. If the mediation deadline is missed, many county courts will not allow you to have a trial, and may even dismiss the petition and make you start all over. In some cases, the court may impose a fine, or make you pay the other side’s attorney fees. So make sure that you meet the mediation deadline. Once you get your mediation scheduled, you certainly do not want to have it cancelled. Cancellation means rescheduling, and rescheduling may result in missing the deadline.
How Do I Find A Mediator?
The problem that many people soon realize is that mediators are often very busy. Sometimes they are not available until after your deadline has already passed. You may have to call several mediators to find one that is availalbe on a date that comes before the deadline has passed.
Once you find a mediator, make sure that you provide them with whatever documents or court pleadings are requested. It is helpful to most mediators if you also provide a brief description of the facts in your case, and identify any issues which are agreed.
If the mediation goes well, and all issues are resolved, you can cancel the trial and save thousands of dollars. Even if you only resolve some of the issues, you can still save money by reducing the time needed for trial.