Jeff Rifleman, JD

Mediation in Utah


Mediation sessions can be held virtually (via Zoom meeting) or in-person at a mutally agreed upon location.

In mediation, the neutral third-party mediator assists both parties in sorting out their affairs, ranging from issues related to the children's custody and parent-time, financial issues such as alimony, child support and debt division as well as the division of real and personal property. Mediation is a useful tool, especially for those parties who are having difficulties communicating. It proves cost-effective when compared to the time, financial requirements and emotional damage associated with major divorce trial.

The issues resolved by the parties in mediation are created and accepted by both parties. The parties come to a resolution of the mediation issues, and do so with full participation, the agreement reached is more likely to be followed by the parties in the future.

In Utah divorce cases, if the divorce is contested, then the parties are required (unless a waiver is obtained) to attempt to mediate their contested issues with a court approved mediator.  Do not short change your case by seeking the least expensive mediator, or one that is not on the court approved roster.  The Utah Judicial Council has provided the requirements for alternative dispute resolution for the purpose of ensuring that the program is appropriate for cases where settlement is favored.  The mediators on the court roster have received training, instruction and have performed the requisite number of observed, co-mediated, and solo-mediated cases before being approved for court qualification.


Utah Code

30-3-39. Mediation program.

(1) There is established a mandatory domestic mediation program to help reduce the time and tensions associated with obtaining a divorce.

(2) If, after the filing of an answer to a complaint of divorce, there are any remaining contested issues, the parties shall participate in good faith in at least one session of mediation. This requirement does not preclude the entry of pretrial orders before mediation takes place.

(3) The parties shall use a mediator qualified to mediate domestic disputes under criteria established by the Judicial Council in accordance with Section 78B-6-205

(4) Unless otherwise ordered by the court or the parties agree upon a different payment arrangement, the cost of mediation shall be divided equally between the parties.

(5) The director of dispute resolution programs for the courts, the court, or the mediator may excuse either party from the requirement to mediate for good cause.

(6) Mediation shall be conducted in accordance with the Utah Rules of Court-Annexed Alternative Dispute Resolution.

*78B-6-205. Judicial Council rules for ADR procedures.

3(h) to establish the qualifications of ADR providers for each form of ADR procedure including that formal education in any particular field may not, by itself, be either a prerequisite or sufficient qualification to serve as an ADR provider under the program authorized by this part;


What are the benefits of mediation resolution will reflect each party's individual values and specific needs. Our experience has shown that when both parties participate in good faith mediation...

- Parties control their own decisions;

- There is less direct or indirect stress on the children;

- Parties are more likely to comply with their final agreements;

- Mediation is faster than litigation;

- Mediation can be done with or without your attorney; and

- Mediation is less costly than litigation.

What are some of the concerns with mediation?

- A party may not fully engage the process;

- Parties may not be ready with enough information to achieve resolution;

- Third parties may influence the mediation;

- Party hesitancy over confidentiality, bad faith participation, and enforcement of agreements. (see this paper) . Mediation as a Modern Alternative Dispute Resolution Device – Issues and Discussion on Confidentiality, Participation Requirements and Enforcement of Agreements.