Mediation FAQ

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process by which the participants, together with the assistance of a neutral mediator, isolate disputed issues in order to develop options, consider alternatives, and reach a consensual settlement that will best accommodate their needs.  In other words, a mediator helps you identify your options in light of all of your risks and opportunities, and communicate with the other party to your dispute to try and resolve the matter without going to court.

Why mediate?

Mediation is a better way to resolve your dispute.  It is nearly always faster and cheaper than going to court, and best of all, you are in control of the outcome.  If you are divorcing, you may spend tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs to get to a trial only to have a judge enter an order that makes everyone unhappy.   In mediation, you can agree to a child custody schedule that accommodate your real life, or an asset division that makes the most practical sense for everyone, and you can save all those fees and costs.  A mediated agreement can contain almost anything you can envision and agree upon.

Mediation is also totally confidential.  Most people don’t want to have their dispute heard in a public courtroom in front of the world.  Mediation occurs in a private setting, and the mediator will not disclose what occurs in mediation (except as required by law, such as where there is unreported child abuse or criminal activity).  If you don’t come to an agreement, all mediation discussions and materials are not be admissible in any later court or other proceeding.

Lastly, mediation is required in Utah before your domestic case can go to a trial, and it is ordered by judges in many other types cases before the parties can have a trial.

Why should I choose Primary Dispute Resolution?

Ben W. Lieberman, mediator and managing member of Primary Dispute Resolution, has the experience and insight to help work through issues from the simple to the complex.  He has tried cases to judges and juries regarding divorce, child custody, divorce modification, personal injury, contract, real estate, and product liability.  He has experience on all sides of court disputes—representing large corporations, insurance companies and injured people in injury cases, men and women in divorce cases, creditors and debtors in commercial cases.  Ben has also worked for two judges, so he understands how judges go about making decisions.

Additionally, Primary Dispute Resolution offers co-mediation with Katie Lieberman, MSW, LCSW.  Katie is a mental health counselor and can assist the parties in working through the difficult emotional issues surrounding disputes like divorces.

Will you give me legal advice?

No.  Although Ben W. Lieberman, mediator and managing member of Primary Dispute Resolution, is an attorney, when he is serving as a mediator in a case, he is not the attorney for any party and cannot give legal advice.  Parties are always encouraged to get legal advice from an attorney, and we can recommend one upon request.

Is divorce mediation like couples counseling?

No.  We’re here to help you divorce better, faster and cheaper.  We’re not in the business of keeping you together.  We can refer you to counselors who can help you with that if you find you want to work on your marriage.

How long will mediation take and how much will it cost?

It depends.  Mediation charges are billed hourly.  In simple cases where the parties are able to agree on everything quickly and easily, it may just take an hour or two.  Frequently, divorce mediations take three to five hours, though some take longer.   It all depends on how difficult the issues are in the dispute and how contentious the parties are.

If we come to an agreement, will you draft the documents to make it “official”?

In many cases, yes.  Usually, this question comes up in divorce cases where neither party has or wants to hire an attorney.  In many cases, we can draft documents and process your divorce through the courts.  You can contact us to learn more about those options.

What if we don’t reach an agreement?

In the event no agreement is reached in mediation, we can discuss other settlement options, like a partial or temporary settlement.  All mediation discussions and materials are strictly confidential and are not be admissible in any later court or other proceeding.  No communication in mediation, whether written or oral, should ever be held against you in the future.

Who pays for the mediation?

Unless otherwise agreed, each party is responsible for half of the mediation costs.

Can I have an attorney present, or do I need an attorney present?

You may have an attorney present, but you do not need an attorney present.  The extent to which you utilize an attorney is always a matter of your choice.  If you do not have an attorney and you come to an agreement at mediation, you are advised to have that agreement reviewed by an attorney, and references can be provided upon request.

What about other experts?

It may make sense for mediating parties to jointly retain mutually-trusted experts at additional cost for specific reasons.  For example, in many situations, it is necessary to obtain a credible appraisal or other valuation of real property, a business, or some other asset.  It is also not uncommon for mediating parties to choose to consult jointly with an accountant or other tax expert for purposes of maximizing the tax benefits of their agreement.  Mediating parties with parenting concerns may also find it beneficial to obtain the impartial thoughts and recommendation s of a mutually acceptable child development specialist.  Ultimately, these choices are up to the mediating parties.

What can I do to help make my mediation successful?

Get informed and bring documents.  Get advice from lawyers or other professionals prior to mediation, and bring all of your relevant documentation to the mediation.  In a divorce case, this includes account statements, retirement account statements, tax returns, pay stubs, property appraisals, and the like.

Have other questions? Contact us!