Mediation Program Frequently Asked Questions
- What can I do if I am having parent-time (visitation) problems?
- What are the State of Utah minimum parent-time (visitation) guidelines?
- How do I file a motion to enforce the parent-time (visitation) order?
- How does the court refer a case to mediation?
- What is mediation?
- How can we participate in mediation?
- Do I have to attend mediation?
- How much does mediation cost?
- How long does mediation last?
- Do I have to bring an attorney?
- Can I reschedule the mediation session?
- What is the process once our case is referred to mediation?
- Can my new spouse, fiancé, boyfriend/girlfriend, family member, or friend come with me?
- What issues can we discuss in mediation?
- Is what we say confidential?
- What happens when we reach an agreement?
- What happens if we don't reach an agreement?
- Do you offer pick-up and drop-off, or supervised parent-time (visitation) services?
- Who can I talk to if I have concerns about the mediation or mediator?
- Can you answer my questions about the collection or payment of child support or about the Office of the Recovery Services?
- What is court-ordered parent-time?
- When is a case screened out of mediation?
- Where can I find a referral form?
- Do attorneys usually attend this type of mediation?
- What is the role of an attorney in a Co-Parenting mediation?
- How to I refer a case to mediation?
- What is the statutory authority for the Co-Parenting Mediation Program?
- Do we have to come to an agreement?
- What is the program definition of "Good Faith"?
Parent or Party Questions
If you are experiencing a denial of parent-time rights and have an order of the Third Judicial District court order regarding parent-time the Co-Parenting Mediation Program may apply. Utah's Third Judicial District is comprised of Salt Lake County, Tooele County, and Summit County. You can download and print off a Motion to Enforce Parent-time Order from this website, fill it out, and file it with the clerk's office. A referral to mediation will be made, and a session will be scheduled to take place within 15 days.
If you DO NOT have an order of the court for parent-time, or if the order is from another district or state, our program unfortunately does not apply. If you have an order from somewhere else, you need to contact the court that issued the order and seek their help to enforce the order. If you do not have an order of the court for parent-time (visitation), you may wish to contact an attorney to file for these rights in court. For more information on paternity establishment, click here: www.utcourts.gov/mediation/cpm/paternity.html. If you live in Salt Lake County, you may also contact Utah Dispute Resolution at (801) 532-4841 and attempt to schedule a voluntary mediation session with them. They may be able to contact the other parent and invite them to discuss the issues in mediation.
The following are links to sections of the Utah Code Annotated concerning parent-time:
- 30-3-35 Minimum schedule for parent-time guidelines for children 5 - 18 yrs of age
- 30-3-35.1 Optional schedule for parent-time for children 5 to 18 years of age
- 30-3-35.5 Minimum schedule for parent-time guidelines for children under 5 yrs of age
- 30-3-33 Advisory guidelines
- 30-3-37 Relocation (out of state) statute
A "do-it-yourself" Motion to Enforce Parent-time Order is available on-line, as well as instructions in regards to filing it with the clerk's office. If you have an order of the court from the Third District (Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele counties), you may print out and file the Motion to begin the parent-time enforcement process.
When a motion is filed with the clerk's office alleging a violation of court-ordered parent-time rights, the matter is referred to the Co-Parenting Mediation Program.
Mediation is a process where disputing parties meet together to identify their issues and resolve their differences with the use of a neutral third party-a mediator. Parent-time (visitation) mediation is a conflict resolution tool used by parties, attorneys, and the Court to find a peaceable, practical resolution to parent-time issues. As a conflict resolution approach, mediation has several advantages over traditional litigation:
- It provides a confidential, and informal climate, which fosters open and honest discussions;
- It gives parents an opportunity to express their parent-time (visitation) concerns directly to one another;
- The mediator helps the parties to communicate and explore ways to ensure reliable contact with their child(ren);
- The children may be included in the mediation process.
Although part of the court process, mediation is often used by parties to decrease the adversarial nature of the courtroom and, with the help of the mediator, identify their needs and develop a parenting plan that works for not only both parents, but for the child(ren), as well. Mediation stresses that conflict is a problem to be solved, not a battle to be won.
Parents can participate in the Co-Parenting Mediation Program if a parent files a motion with the Third District Court alleging a violation of court-ordered parent-time rights. A referral is made from the Clerk's office and the parties must attempt mediation before obtaining a court hearing.
Referral to mediation is required when a motion is filed with the Third District Court alleging a violation of court-ordered parent-time rights. If you have received a letter and notice from this office, it is mandatory that you convene for mediation. Failure to attend mediation will be reported to the court.
The Co-Parenting Mediation Program is supported by a grant, allowing us to offer mediation at a reduced rate of $50.00 per hour, per person. Parties with limited or low-incomes may qualify for an additional reduction in the rate based on their income.
The length of mediation is different for each case depending on the number of issues, and the levels of conflict experienced between the parties, but will often last between 2 and 3 hours. Parents may need to arrange time off of work to attend.
You are not required to bring your attorney to mediation. Either parent has the right to have their attorney present during the mediation session. Parties should know that the main communication in mediation will be between the two parents. The program requests to be notified at least 48 hour prior to mediation if your attorney will be attending.
You can begin by writing down and listing what it is you want to accomplish in mediation. Coming prepared with a list of specific concerns and issues will help focus the mediation and make your time more productive. Ask yourself what it is you want, and then (more importantly) ask yourself why you want it. What would it look, feel, and be like if you got what you wanted? The answers to this latter question will help your mediator see that your needs are identified and met as you work toward an effective co-parenting relationship.
Come to the mediation session prepared to listen to the concerns and experience of the other parent. To truly listen to the other parent, you will need to question your assumptions about their motives and reasons for doing whatever they are doing. Let them tell their story and accept it as their experience, their "truth," which may be very different from yours.
It is likely that you know what the other parent's concerns are as well as where the sticking points will be during your mediation. Ask yourself two questions:
- What do you need from the other parent in order to agree to what he or she is asking for?
- What could you offer to get the other parent to agree to what you want?
Answering both of these questions will force you to think of the needs and interests of the other parent and more importantly, the needs and interests of your child(ren).
It may be helpful to bring your calendar, the children's school schedules, and other planning material that will be helpful in creating an upcoming parent-time (visitation) schedule. Come with a hope and desire to finally resolve whatever problems and disputes you have had in the past, and a willingness to let go of the past in exchange for a better, and more peaceful future.
Although it is possible for parties to mediate with a current Protective Order in place, or cases with other safety concerns including components of Domestic Violence, special arrangements and considerations must be made. If mediation is set in a certain case with any of the above stated factors, the program has "Best Practices" in place to promote the safety of ALL participants. These practices include, but are not limited to:
- All mediation with a Protective Order will be conducted in a Third District Courthouse or virtually.
- If in person mediation is held, times of arrival will be staggered.
- Mediation will be conducted in shuttle, parties in different rooms, unless the victim gives consent to meet face to face in the same room.
- The victim in this case may have, and is encouraged to have a victim advocate present during the mediation as their "support person".
* The Co-Parenting Mediation Program reserves the right to assign which party may call in to mediation and the times of arrival (if applicable) of each party.
Due to the mandatory nature of the Co-Parenting Mediation Program, mediation sessions are generally NOT rescheduled. If, however, you feel you have a valid reason to reschedule, (for example, a death in the family or hospitalization), your request must be made in writing and submitted to the Co-Parenting Mediation Program at least 3 business days before your mediation session. If you prefer, you may also email this request. Quite often parties are required to rearrange their personal and work schedules to attend the mediation as it is scheduled.
When a case is referred to the Co-Parenting Mediation Program, the filed court motion is screened to determine if mediation is appropriate. Most cases will be scheduled for mediation.
If the case is scheduled for mediation, notice is mailed to both parents, including a Screening Intake Form, and mediation takes place within 15 days of the referral being made. It is expected that parents will earnestly try to solve the problems that they are facing.
Mediation is typically conducted between the two biological and/or legal parents or guardians of the children. Under Utah Code Annotated 78B-10-110, an attorney or other individual designated by a party may accompany the party to a mediation session. This person is what our program refers to as your "support person". You may only have one support person in mediation.
The primary focus of the Co-Parenting Mediation Program is to resolve parent-time problems or concerns and enforce the court order. Concerns that you have about the safety of the children, missed parent-time or holidays, or compliance with the order of the court are appropriate to discuss in mediation, as are issues surrounding the roles of step-parents and other key players in the lives of the children.
Mediation is future focused and not the place to dwell on the past. Mediation works best when the two parents put their differences aside, if only for a couple of hours, and work together to resolve their conflict for the sake of their children.
The mediator is not a "finder of fact" which means that it is not their job to determine who is right or wrong, or who is lying and who is telling the truth. Mediation is future focused and is concerned with reaching an agreement and understanding that will resolve the conflict the parents are experiencing today, and prevent similar conflict from repeating in the future.
The mediation process requires open and honest communication as the parties work toward a resolution to their concerns and disputes; therefore, mediation is confidential. Parties are required to sign an Agreement to Mediate, which dictates that the mediator will not reveal anything discussed in mediation without the permission of both parties, and neither party may call the mediator as a witness or subpoena records or notes in future court proceedings. Exceptions to confidentiality new allegations of abuse or neglect involving a child, an elder, or an incapacitate person. These will be reported to the appropriate authorities.
The mediator will reduce any agreements reached in a mediation session into a document called a "Memorandum of Understanding." This represents the mediator's understanding of the agreements reached by the parents in mediation. This document is NOT legally binding at the time of mediation. It is recommended that each parent consult an attorney and obtain legal advice on the terms of their agreement prior to filing a stipulation with the court. If one or both parents have an attorney, an assignment is made to draft a stipulation and order to be filed with the court. If neither parent has an attorney, a "Mediated Order Regarding Parent-Time" can be filled out and filed with the court.
In cases where an agreement is not reached, the case is referred back to court and the parents may schedule a court hearing by contacting the appropriate commissioner's clerk. A Mediation Disposition Notice is filed with the court outlining that mediation was conducted but that no agreement was reached.
The Co-Parenting Mediation Program does not currently contract with any neutral exchange or supervised parent-time providers. The Co-Parenting Mediation Program may provide information on private providers within the Salt Lake area.
All complaints or concerns made to the Co-Parenting Mediation Program about the mediation or mediator will be directed to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Director for the state of Utah. If you wish to discuss your concerns, please indicate as such in your complaint.
Can you answer my questions about the collection or payment of child support or about the Office of the Recovery Services?
Although issues related to the payment (or non-payment) of child support are often raised in mediation, our focus remains on parent-time enforcement. Many of the common child support questions are answered by the Office of Recovery Services on their website. You can visit them by clicking on http://www.ors.utah.gov/
Parent-time is considered to be "court-ordered" whenever there is a temporary or permanent order in district court regarding parent-time. The non-custodial parent is recognized through the court system as a legal parent of the child(ren), and in many cases, is granted parent-time under the Utah Minimum Statutory Parent-time Guidelines. No other agency has the ability to grant parent-time and parent-time rights to a non-custodial parent other than the court system.
The Co-Parenting Mediation Program will screen each referral to determine whether or not the matter is appropriate for mediation. Cases with a current protective order, domestic violence, Juvenile Court or criminal no-contact order, drug use/abuse, or an allegation of child abuse may be screened out of mediation. Cases with no court-ordered parent-time will also be screened out. If the case is screened out, program staff will contact each attorney or party who filed the motion and inform them of this decision.
Referral forms (PDF) are available at the Matheson Courthouse in room W-30 and on-line. Please make sure to fill out the referral form completely. Missing information can delay the scheduling process.
Attorneys do not typically attend mediation sessions conducted through the Co-Parenting Mediation Program. Legal counsel is welcome to attend at the request of the client or if the presence of legal counsel would be helpful or necessary for the parties to reach an agreement.
During Co-Parenting mediation, parents are to take the active role in discussing with the other parent their issues and concerns with parent-time. The role of an attorney is to offer private legal advice and counsel to their client when needed. If you will be attending, please notify the program at least 48 hours prior to the mediation. In cases where an agreement is reached in mediation, attorneys are helpful in drafting up the agreement and finalizing it with the court.
A referral form (PDF) must be completed along with an attached a copy of the motion sent to our program. You can either place this in the basket located in the Clerk's office in W30 at the Matheson Courthouse, the reception office of the Administrative Office of the Court (N31), fax it at (801) 578-3843, or send it to us via the mail. Please make sure that you do not send the original motion to our program. The original motion must be filed with the court. If you have not received notice of either your case being screened out or scheduled for mediation within a few days after making the referral to mediation, please call us and follow up. On occasion, motions and referral forms are misdirected on their way to our office.
Referral to the Co-Parenting Mediation Program is mandatory under Utah Code Annotated §30-3-38 when a motion is filed with the Third District Court alleging a violation of court-ordered parent-time rights.
Parties are not required to come to a resolution or agreement in mediation. If the parties are able to come up with an agreement, the mediator will prepare a Memorandum of Understanding, which represents the mediator's understanding of the agreements reached. The Memorandum of Understanding is not a court order. The parties may make the Memorandum Of Understanding a court order if they and their respective counsel agree to do so in the form of a formal stipulation.
The Co-Parenting Mediation Program defines "good faith" as the parties' willingness to convene for mediation, listen to the mediator's opening statement regarding mediation, and making the decision as to whether or not they want to continue with the mediation process. Neither the mediator, nor the program will make any evaluations on whether or not a person in mediation participated in "good faith" beyond the above noted program definition.