What happens if my ex won’t go to mediation?

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In this blog we will discuss what happens if your ex won’t go to or attend mediation. 

We will also briefly touch upon what mediation is, are the consequences of declining or not attending mediation, what are the exceptions to attending mediation, and how you can get an unwilling ex-partner to attend. 

What happens if my ex won’t go to mediation?

If your ex-partner is not willing to engage in a mediation process, here are a few things that can happen:

  • The mediation will be rescheduled
  • The hearing will continue without them present
  • They might be held in contempt of court

In most countries and states, mediation is voluntary however, there are some states and conditions where mediation is necessary- especially when it involves child custody and the parents are unable to agree on custody arrangements.

According to Alternative Divorce Solutions, if your ex fails to attend to declines to attend a mediation meeting, here are the possible thighs that might happen:

The mediation is rescheduled

If your ex has not attended the meeting due to a legitimate concern such as meeting an accident when coming to court, health conditions, delay in transportation such as flight delays etc- it is possible that the mediation meeting can be researched provided that you also agree. 

However, this ha[pens only when it is of legitimate concerns and not just because they ignored their repsnisbsiity or have ill intentions towards the entire process. 

By agreeing to rescheduled, it shows that you have good faith in your partner and the judge will likely agree to a rescheduling. 

If your partner does not attend simply because they do not want to attend, you have to let your mediator speak to them or if all fails, you have to convince them to attend by selling the mediation to them or by using a solicitor to convince them to attend. 

If it is because of legitimate reasons, the hearing will either be decided by the court based on the circumstances related to the delay. 

Continuation of Hearing

If you are certain that your ex is shunning off responsibility and ignoring the gravity of the circumstances, you and your attorney can file a claim to pursue the hearing. (Alternative Divorce Solutions)

If your ex’s reasons are not legitimate and it is simply them being responsible, you have the right to request that the hearing contine and this will become a case to address in court. 

If this is such a case, the parent who is involved will usually have an advantage since your ex’s behaviour will have already influenced the judges decisions and is likely that they will issue a ruling in your favour.

Contempt of Court

If it is a court mandated mediation and your ex decided to refuse mediation, this could put them in contempt of court which means that they are disobeying the court and this can lead to potential penalties ( Alternative Divorce Solutions) such as:

  • Community service
  • Jail time
  • Fines
  • Paying your attorney’s fees

Will declining a mediation be held against someone?

If there is a legitimate reason as to why you do not want to mediate for example, you are a victim of abuse from your ex partner. It is unlikely that declining a mediation will be held against you. 

However if you decline without a legitimate reason, it is possible that this can be held against you with respect to the judges decisions in court. 

According to Direct Mediation Services, for most countries and states, mediation is voluntary and it is always attempted unless there is an exception that applies. 

In cases where there are children involved, all decisions and steps taken by court related to separation and custody are all done to maintain and ensure the welfare of the children and their best interest. 

If you have declined to mediate, it is possible that your behaviour will be considered as part of the dispute process and this can impact the case against you. For example, if you have been refusing to attend and have frustrated the process, this might influence the judges decision in the favor of the other party. 

If you do not have a legitimate reason as to why you are declining to attend, the judge at the hearing and meeting may perceived you as an antagonist and this might act against your interest. 

If you have reasons why you do not want to mediate, but are unsure if your reasons are good reasons, it may be useful for you to still attend an initial meeting with a mediation to clarify misconceptions and doubts. 

What are the exemptions to attending mediation?

According to Direct Mediation Services, an individual can be exempted from mediation in the following circumstances:

  • If the person is a victim of domestic abuse, they do not need to attend mediation however they must be able to provide evidence of the abuse.
  • In case one of the parties lives abroad, they can be exempted from attending mediation due to practicalities; however, it is possible for some to attend the meditations virtually. 
  • If their location is unknown and there have been attempts to find out where they are but have failed in locating them, mediation will be exempted. 
  • If you attended a mediation within the last 4 months and have a certificate to evidence this, then you do not need to attend again.
  • If your case is urgent and risks the safety of any individuals involved- especially children, there is no need for mediation and can be exampeted. 
  • If you or your partner is under 18.
  • If you or the other party is about to be bankrupt.

How do you get an unwilling partner to try Mediation?

Here are a few things that you can do if your partner refuses to attend mediation:

Contact a mediator

According to Hazel Manktelow, writer for Family Law Partners, if your partner is unwilling to try mediation or attend mediation the first thing that you can do is to contact a mediation and let them know what is happening.

Let the mediator contact your partner. 

Following this, you should let your mediator contact your ex-partner to invite them to the mediation. During this time, you should let the mediator do what they have been trained to while you learn more about what mediation is and what you can expect. 

Mediators are trained to contact parties involved and it is likely that they will inform and educate people about what medication is, and oftentimes reluctant parties do join in after their conversation with a mediator and this is usually because a 3rd party is asking them and not you. 

During this conversation, the mediator will explore what is holding the person back from attending mediation or what is making them reluctant. 

Some reasons according to Family Law partners include:

  • They feel like the other party is handling everything well and that they need not be part of it.
  • They have fears because they don’t know what will happen
  • They fear the loss of control
  • They are unaware of what is happening or what is going to happen 

After these reasons are explored and the individual is informed as to what happens and what they can expect by the mediators, they are more likely to agree to attend. 

Attend initial meetings

When both parties agree to the mediation, the initial individual meetings take place where both individuals are inflamed and issues discussed related to what mediation process is so as to familiarise the parties involved. 

Individual rights and myths. Misconceptions related to mediation are addressed and issues are clarified during this session. Emotions are also normalised during this process and accommodations are discussed- like the liberty to take breaks during the meetings. 

It is also important that the mediator address power imbalances between parties especially related to finances in order to empower the people involved so as to reduce and address anxieties related to being at a disadvantage.

Encourage your partner

IN case that even after the mediator contacts them, they are still reluctant to attend the mediation, you can try out two things according to Family Law Partners:

  • Sell mediation to your ex-partner by convincing your partner the benefits of attending a mediation instead of going to court by highlighting financial costs related to court as well as how long it takes for proceedings to take place in court, and that you both have far less control at court compared to mediation. 
  • Speak to a solicitor if everything else fails and let the solicitor write to your ex partner and explain the options available and put across the argument that mediation is more beneficial for both parties. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed what happens if your ex won’t go to or attend mediation. 

We have also briefly touched upon what mediation is, are the consequences of declining or not attending mediation, what are the exceptions to attending mediation, and how you can get an unwilling ex-partner to attend. 

FAQ related to What happens if my ex won’t go to mediation?

Can I force my ex to go to mediation?

YOu cannot force your court to go to mediation because in most cases mediation is voluntary. However,If it is a court mandated mediation and your ex decided to refuse mediation, this could put them in contempt of court which means that they are disobeying the court and this can lead to potential penalties.

Do you legally have to attend mediation?

In most cases mediation is voluntary. However,If it is a court mandated mediation, you and your ex have to go and it is legally binding. 

If you or your ex decided to refuse mediation, this could put them in contempt of court which means that they are disobeying the court and this can lead to potential penalties.

What happens if you say no to mediation?

If there is a legitimate reason as to why you do not want to mediate for example, you are a victim of abuse from your ex partner. It is unlikely that declining a mediation will be held against you. 

However if you decline without a legitimate reason, it is possible that this can be held against you with respect to the judges decisions in court. 

Can I skip mediation and go straight to court?

While it is possible, it will still require you to attend Mediation meetings so that the mediators can decide where a legal hearing will be required or not. 

References

What Happens If My Ex Doesn’t Attend Court-Ordered Child Custody Mediation? Alternative Divorce Solutions. January 30, 2020. Retrieved on 10th March 2022. https://www.altdivorcesolutions.com/blog/2020/january/what-happens-if-my-ex-doesn-t-attend-court-order/

What Happens If I Don’t Go To Mediation? Direct Mediation Services. Retrieved on 10th March 2022. https://www.directmediationservices.co.uk/if-i-refuse-mediation-will-it-go-against-me-in-court/

Manktelow.H. How do you get an unwilling partner to try Mediation? Family Law Partners. Retrieved on 10th March 2022. https://familylawpartners.co.uk/blog/how-do-you-get-an-unwilling-partner-to-try-mediation/

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