Mandatory Mediation in South Carolina Family Court
Written by: Megan Dell
For most cases, there is mandatory mediation in South Carolina Family Court. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process in which the parties get together to attempt settlement with the help of a neutral (referred to as the “mediator”). The mediation process is used in divorce cases and child custody cases.
Rule 3, SCADR, provides that mediation is required for most South Carolina Family Court cases.
How is a mandatory mediator selected?
The mediator can be chosen by the parties by agreement or appointed by the Family Court when requested. Most mediators have extensive family law experience and gone through specific training on how to help parties reach agreements.
Who pays for the mediator?
Rule 9(c), SCADR, specifies that the mediator’s fees are to be divided equally between the parties to the case unless agreed or ordered otherwise.
Who is present for mediation?
The only people who have the right to attend a mandatory mediation in South Carolina Family Court are the parties, their attorneys, and the mediator. Other people may attend only when agreed upon by everyone involved. Rule 5(d), SCADR. For child custody mediation, stepparents may be permitted to participate.
For mediations in Family Court cases, the parties often remain in separate rooms (with their attorneys) for the entire mediation conference, and they do not see each other face to face.
Is what I tell the mediator confidential?
Rule 8, SCADR, provides that almost all circumstances related to the mediation and statements made during it are confidential.
Does the mediator talk to the judge?
Because of the limitations on what can be disclosed about a mediation, the mediator cannot talk to the judge about a case and cannot be called to testify at trial.
Can the mediator force parties to enter an agreement?
Though the parties to a South Carolina Family Court case are required to attend mediation and participate in good faith, they are not required to reach an agreement or settlement during the mediation. The mediator cannot force the parties to enter an agreement.
Why is mediation required?
Over time, our courts have found that mandatory mediation in South Carolina Family Court allows the parties to have greater control over the outcome of cases that are most personal to them.
Additionally, Rule 5(g), SCADR, specifies that a case cannot be set for trial until proof of the parties’ attendance at mediation has been filed.
Mediation is necessary for many Family Court cases. If you need help making progress in your case, schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.