Feb 28

Mandatory Mediation in South Carolina Family Court

Written by: Megan Dell


Mandatory Mediation in South Carolina Family Court

Mandatory mediation is an integral part of resolving various family law matters in South Carolina Family Court. This article provides a detailed overview of mandatory mediation, focusing on its application in child support and divorce cases. We will explore key aspects such as forced mediation, mediation guidelines in South Carolina, the role of the mediator, child custody and visitation issues, child support agreements, and the significance of mandatory mediation in the state’s legal framework.

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.

If you have this question: “Can I refuse divorce mediation?” keep reading! The South Carolina mediation rules are part of the South Carolina Rules of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Rule 3, SCADR, provides that mediation is required for most South Carolina Family Court cases.

Understanding Mandatory Mediation in South Carolina Family Court

In South Carolina, mandatory mediation is a requirement for many family court cases, including divorce and child support disputes. This alternative dispute resolution process is governed by the South Carolina Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules (SCADR) and is designed to facilitate amicable resolutions while reducing the burden on the court system.

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 family court 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. This means that all divorce mediation costs are split between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

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 Family Court mediation, 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.

Child Support Mediation

Child support mediation is a crucial aspect of mandatory mediation in South Carolina Family Court. It allows parties to address child support issues, including the determination of financial responsibilities, adherence to child support guidelines, and establishing a child support agreement that ensures the well-being of the children involved.

Child Custody and Visitation Mediation Program

In cases involving legal and physical custody disputes, a child custody mediation process can help parents reach agreements that promote the best interests of the child. South Carolina offers a visitation mediation program, wherein mediators facilitate discussions on visitation schedules, parental rights, and responsibilities, ensuring that the child’s well-being remains a priority.

Forced Mediation and Voluntary Agreements

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. The purpose of mediation is to foster open communication, promote understanding, and encourage voluntary agreements that satisfy both parties involved.

The Significance of Mandatory Mediation

Mandatory mediation in South Carolina Family Court empowers parties to actively participate in the resolution of their cases. It allows for greater control over outcomes, promotes efficient dispute resolution, and reduces the strain on the court system. Use of custody mediation to resolve child support and custody or visitation questions allows families can work together to create agreements that best serve the needs of their children.

Mediation for Family Court in SC is guided by the SCADR rules, which provide a framework for the mediation process. These rules outline the selection of mediators, cost allocation, confidentiality, and the limitations on the mediator’s role. Additionally, SC Family Court rules mandate that mediation attendance must be documented before a case can proceed to trial, specificied by Rule 5(g), SCADR.

Mediation is Necessary for Many Family Court Cases.

Mandatory mediation plays a pivotal role in resolving child support and divorce cases in South Carolina Family Court. By adhering to the SCADR rules and SC Family Court rules, parties can engage in a productive and confidential mediation process that aims to create fair and sustainable agreements. Child support guidelines, visitation mediation programs, and the expertise of mediators contribute to the positive outcomes achieved through mandatory mediation. Through this process, families can find resolution and move forward with a greater sense of control and understanding. If you need help making progress in your case, schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys.

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