The use of mediation in Iowa is becoming an increasingly popular way of resolving family law disputes. In mediation, a neutral third party (the mediator) assists the parties in reaching an agreement regarding some or all of the issues in their case. The mediator is chosen by agreement of the parties and while he/she is not a legal advisor for either side, an effective mediator may raise issues not previously considered. Overall, the mediation process tends to be less adversarial, allows the parties greater control over the outcome of their case, and saves time and money.
Either party can request to participate in mediation at anytime (Iowa Code Section 598.7). The best time to mediate; however, is after the parties have had an opportunity to fully identify all of the unresolved issues in their case. The Court can also order the parties to participate in mediation. If ordered to participate in mediation, parties can request a waiver where there is a history of domestic violence or abuse in the relationship (Iowa Code Section 598.41).
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement at mediation, the parties can then proceed as if mediation had never taken place. This usually involves requesting the Court to make a decision on any unresolved issues at a hearing or trial.