Mediation

1. Is Mediation voluntary?

In Black Hawk County, mediation is mandatory in family law cases. However, the parties must agree to try to resolve their dispute through mediation and may suspend mediation or withdraw at any time.

2. Before signing a Mediation Agreement, can I have my attorney review it?

Yes, your attorney should review the mediation agreement with you and answer any questions that you may have.

3. How do I schedule an appointment for mediation and how much does it cost?

To schedule an appointment please call our office at (319) 234-2638 and speak with the pre-mediation coordinator and provide the requested information. If we are unavailable to speak with you, please leave a voice mail message, including your name, phone number and a good time to return your call, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. After speaking with the pre-mediation coordinator, you may download the Personal Data and Information Form.

The cost of a minimum two-hour mediation appointment is $165 per participant ($330 total for two hours). If you choose to schedule for more than the two-hour minimum appointment, each additional hour is available at the rate of $82.50 per hour per participant ($165 total per hour).

4. What information do I need when scheduling my appointment?

We will need to know your name, address, phone numbers (cell, home, work); your attorney's name, phone and fax numbers; the county in which the case has been filed; the case number (located in the upper right section of your legal documents usually beginning with CDDM, DRCV, LA, or EQ followed by some numbers) and if you plan to have your attorney attend.

5. Can I schedule for both side of the mediation?

Yes. You will need to have the others party's information (see FAQ #1). You will also have to have the other party call into our office and confirm that you have permission to schedule for both. This can be beneficial in getting appointment times arranged.

6. Should I schedule for more than a three-hour appointment?

Depending on the issues, Mediation can take one to several sessions. At the beginning of the first session, we will spend a short amount of time discussing the Mediation process and discussing which issues you and the other party would like to resolve first. If you and the other party are communicating, more can be accomplished with more time. You may schedule a longer mediation appointment, or a follow-up session, but the choice is up to you.

5. Can we go longer than our scheduled appointment?

Usually there is an appointment scheduled immediately following your set appointment. But, if there is not another appointment after you, you may go longer. The additional time must be paid in full at the end of the mediation session and will be charged at the rate of $82.50 per hour per participant ($165 total per hour).

6. Can I schedule for more than one session?

Yes, this is encouraged when matters remain unresolved and are usually scheduled following a previous session.

7. What happens if I cancel my mediation appointment?

If you must cancel your appointment, cancellation must be made at least 48 hours in advance of your scheduled appointment or you each will forfeit your half of the total Mediation fee.

8. What should I bring with me to mediation?

Bring with you any documents, legal pleadings, calculations, prior agreements, drawings, photographs, appraisals, etc. that would be helpful to illustrate your position.

9. Can my attorney attend the mediation with me?

Yes, but is not necessary, particularly if you are participating in a regular mediation session. On the other hand, having attorneys at facilitated settlement sessions and arbitration may be helpful or necessary. If you do choose to have your attorney accompany you to mediation, please contact your attorney and they will advise you in this matter. If your attorney will be accompanying you, please let us know.

10. What happens before the mediation session?

After making an appointment, you will be sent a letter confirming your appointment and asking you to complete the two-page Personal information and Data Sheet. The completed Personal Data and Information Sheet needs to be received by my office at least three business days prior to your Mediation session along with a check or exact cash for your one-half share of the cost for mediation.

11. Does the mediator take sides in the dispute?

No. The Mediator provides a non-adversarial environment for the participants to work together with the mediator to explore alternative ideas and ways to reach agreement. The mediator is a neutral facilitator working to create a positive atmosphere conducive to settlement for all parties.

12. Can mediation involve more than two parties?

Yes. It is better to limit those attending to those directly involved and not spectators or support people. People advise us if you desire to have someone other than your attorney attend mediation with you.

13. What type of issues do you mediate?

Family law disputes: all property division and custody matters related to a dissolution of marriage, child custody or visitation, and modifications of custody and support.

14. What is joint custody, joint physical care, legal custody, physical care, post-secondary education, and child support?

You should discuss the significance of these terms with your attorney. Definitions for these terms can be found in Iowa Code section 598.1:

  1. "Best interest of the child" includes but is not limited to the opportunity for maximum continuous physical and emotional contact possible with both parents, unless direct physical or significant emotional harm to the child may result from this contact. Refusal by one parent to provide this opportunity without just cause shall be considered harmful to the best interest of the child.
  2. "Dissolution of marriage" means a termination of the marriage relationship and shall be synonymous with the term "divorce".
  3. "Joint custody" or "joint legal custody" means an award of legal custody of a minor child to both parents jointly under which both parents have legal custodial rights and responsibilities toward the child and under which neither parent has legal custodial rights superior to those of the other parent. Rights and responsibilities of joint legal custody include but are not limited to equal participation in decisions affecting the child's legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious instruction.
  4. "Joint physical care" means an award of physical care of a minor child to both joint legal custodial parents under which both parents have rights and responsibilities toward the child including but not limited to shared parenting time with the child, maintaining homes for the child, providing routine care for the child and under which neither parent has physical care rights superior to those of the other parent.
  5. "Legal custody" or "custody" means an award of the rights of legal custody of a minor child to a parent under which a parent has legal custodial rights and responsibilities toward the child. Rights and responsibilities of legal custody include but are not limited to decision making affecting the child's legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious instruction.
  6. "Minor child" means any person under legal age.
  7. "Physical care" means the right and responsibility to maintain a home for the minor child and provide for the routine care of the child.
  8. "Postsecondary education subsidy" means an amount which either of the parties may be required to pay under a temporary order or final judgment or decree for educational expenses of a child who is between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two years if the child is regularly attending a course of vocational-technical training either as a part of a regular school program or under special arrangements adapted to the individual person's needs; or is, in good faith, a full-time student in a college, university, or community college; or has been accepted for admission to a college, university, or community college and the next regular term has not yet begun.
  9. "Support" or "support payments" means an amount which the court may require either of the parties to pay under a temporary order or a final judgment or decree, and may include alimony, child support, maintenance, and any other term used to describe these obligations. For orders entered on or after July 1, 1990, unless the court specifically orders otherwise, medical support is not included in the monetary amount of child support. The obligations shall include support for a child who is between the ages of eighteen and nineteen years who is engaged full-time in completing high school graduation or equivalency requirements in a manner which is reasonably expected to result in completion of the requirements prior to the person reaching nineteen years of age; and may include support for a child of any age who is dependent on the parties to the dissolution proceedings because of physical or mental disability.