If your spouse did not show up for a court-ordered mediation session, it may seem as if there is a high chance that the judge will automatically rule in your favor. But do not get your hopes up just yet. What does it mean if your spouse fails to attend the court-ordered mediation session?
We invited our Salt Lake City divorce attorney from The Ault Firm to explain what happens when you or your spouse do not show up for a mediation session ordered by the court.
What is ‘court-ordered mediation’ in Utah?
In Utah, a judge may order mediation when a divorce involves such issues as child custody, child support, child visitation, and alimony. Essentially, mediation is an attempt by the judge to facilitate negotiations between the two spouses. The goal of mediation is to help the spouses work out their differences and get them to amicably agree on such issues as child custody, child support, and, among other things, alimony.
Typically, the mediation is attended by both parties and their lawyers in the presence of a neutral mediator. But what happens if one of the parties is a no-show for a mediation session? Are there any penalties or legal consequences imposed for failure to attend a court-ordered mediation session?
Our experienced divorce attorney in Salt Lake City explains that a spouse’s absence at the mediation can lead to a few scenarios, depending on the circumstances of your particular case.
What happens when a spouse does not attend mediation?
- Reschedule the mediation. When mediation is ordered by the judge in a divorce case, both spouses have the freedom to choose a date and time for the mediation session. If one or two of the spouses are unable to attend the session due to an unforeseeable hardship or emergency, the attorneys of both parties can get in touch to reschedule. If your spouse asks to reschedule the mediation session because of a “hardship,” but you have a reason to believe that he or she simply does not want to mediate disputes and issues in your divorce, do not refuse to reschedule in order to show a good faith effort to work out the differences. Failure to attend the subsequent, rescheduled mediation can prompt the judge to hold your spouse in contempt of court.
- Waiver of mediation. In some cases, spouses do not show up for a mediation session while they wait to get their waiver of mediation approved. A waiver of mediation can be requested by one of the spouses to cancel the mediation for good cause such as a physical inability to attend, being out of state, fearing violence or any other danger, or other compelling circumstance.
- Contempt of court. More often than not, if a spouse ignores court order, such as a court-ordered mediation session, and fails to reschedule or waive the mediation, the judge may hold him or her in contempt of court. If your Salt Lake City divorce attorney can prove that your spouse willfully disobeyed the court order, he or she may face jail time, a fine, or other penalties.
- Continuation of the divorce hearing. If your spouse failed to attend mediation, your lawyer can request continuation of the divorce hearing. When one of the spouses fails to attend the court-ordered meeting and fails to show good cause for rescheduling or waiving that meeting, the judge is more likely to rule on child custody, child support, child visitation, and alimony in favor of the other spouse (unless the other spouse failed to attend the meeting, too).
In any case, it is highly advised that you are represented by a skilled divorce lawyer. After all, judges hate it when spouses fail to show up for court-ordered meetings and sessions. You can use that to your own advantage with the help of an attorney. Contact 801-539-9000 for your case evaluation.