Mediation is an interesting animal. In Utah divorce and child custody cases, mediation is all but mandatory (and is actually mandatory in some Utah jurisdictions). This means almost every contested Utah divorce and child custody case will go to mediation.
People ask us all sorts of questions about mediation. So many, in fact, that we have an FAQ page addressing the most common questions.
And one of the most common questions people ask is, “Do I have to sit in the same room as my husband/wife/ex?”
This is a great question, and the answer is “no.”
We have been part of I can’t even count how many mediations. Never once have we actually stayed in the same room as the other person. We have started in the same room so we can save time while the mediator gives his or her opening spiel about mediation, but then we promptly bolt to another room.
Honestly, we almost never even start in the same room. Our clients don’t like the stress of seeing their ex, and we don’t particularly like seeing our clients stressed. People tend to be more focused and at ease when they mediate in separate rooms, so that’s what we do.
It’s interesting. When I meet with people and explain we’ll be in different rooms during mediation, there is this overwhelming sense of relief and gratefulness that washes over their faces.
This is followed by a sentence like, “Oh, good. I was afraid I’d have to be across the table from him/her for hours.” If being in separate rooms brings that much relief to people, there’s no way we’re sitting in the same room.