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Judges order mediation when divorce cases involve child custody and support issues. The mediation order is an attempt by the judge to help the couple amicably agree to child custody, visitation, and financial support using a neutral mediator. Both parties are expected to attend the mediation with their legal representation. But what happens when he doesn’t show up for the mediation? Will the judge automatically rule in your favor? Will he suffer legal consequences due to his absence? Depending on the circumstances, there are a few things that take place when one party doesn’t show for court ordered mediation.
Reschedule the Mediation
When a judge orders mediation it is up to both parties to choose a date and time for the meeting. If a hardship arose that made it physically impossible for one party to attend the mediation, then the attorneys can contact each other to reschedule. If you know that he refuses to attend any type of mediation, attempting one reschedule will show a good faith effort to mediate disputes and issues.
Waiver of Mediation
In some instances he may not show up because he filed a waiver of mediation through his attorney and is waiting to see if it gets approved. A waiver of mediation will only go through if he proves that a hardship, such as living out of state or being physically unable to attend, prevents him from completing the mediation. Even then a judge may dismiss the request for a waiver. In some cases, one party may file a waiver if there is a fear of violence occurring at the mediation, although this is more commonly filed by women. The judge may request he attend a court hearing to waive the mediation and will rule on the waiver at that time.
Contempt of Court
Ignoring a court order, even in a divorce case, can result in being held in contempt of court. If he refuses to attend any mediations, and hasn’t been successful at having the mediation waived, then the judge can hold him in contempt. His attorney will need to present the reasons he disobeyed the court order, and if the judge finds that he willfully disobeyed the court order he could face jail time or a fine. In most cases, his attorney will advise him to attend the mediation to avoid contempt charges.
Continuation of Hearing
If he refuses to attend mediation, your attorney will file the paperwork to continue the divorce hearing. When one party willfully violates a court order of mediation it does not look good for him. The judge will be angered, and your former spouse will have proven that the issues were not deemed important enough to make an effort at mediation. This will affect how the judge rules on custody, child support, and visitation. Since family law tends to favor the mother when making decisions regarding children, his refusal to attend mediation will work in your favor.
The purpose of mediation is to reach an agreement outside of court, but depending on the current state of the divorce proceedings it isn’t always possible. When one party refuses to deal with mediation procedures, legal recourse becomes problematic. Working closely with a divorce attorney will help ensure that everything gets handled timely and professionally.