South Carolina Supreme Court promulgates new rule for appointing mediators in family court

Posted Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 by Gregory Forman
Filed under Family Court Procedure, Mediation/Alternative Dispute Resolution, Of Interest to Family Court Litigants, Of Interest to Family Law Attorneys, South Carolina Specific

An August 27, 2014 South Carolina Supreme Court order requires dismissal of family court actions if they are not resolved or set for trial within 365 days of filing. A March 14, 2013 Supreme Court order made most local counties subject to mandatory mediation before family court cases will be set for a contested trial. Together, these two rules caused problems in cases in which one side–often a pro se litigant–refused to mediate. The other party would need to file, and attend, a motion to appoint a mediator. This would add unnecessary cost to the case and could delay getting mediation scheduled by a month or two. Sometimes this would be sufficient delay to have the case subject to dismissal.

An April 29, 2015 Supreme Court order authorizes an amendment to South Carolina Alternative Dispute Resolution [ADR] Rule 4(d)(2). That amendment states, “either party may request the appointment of a mediator at any time by submitting a Request for Appointment of Mediator Form to the Clerk of Court. Upon receipt of a Request for Appointment of Mediator Form, the Clerk of Court shall appoint a primary mediator and a secondary mediator…”

On May 5, 2015 the Supreme Court promulgated a new form, SCADR109, available here, to implement this rule change.  One no longer needs to file a motion to get a mediator appointed.  This should reduce delay and expense when one party refuses to mediate.

10 thoughts on South Carolina Supreme Court promulgates new rule for appointing mediators in family court

  1. The SCADR105 looks to be an Order signed by the Judge following a hearing or following a request made by an as-yet-unreleased form.

    So, assuming that this is the Order and not the request form, is it safe to assume that this form should be submitted captioned but otherwise blank at a temporary hearing in which a mediation deadline is requested as part of the relief?

    At some point, we may need a form to serve as a tally of whether or not we have submitted all required forms.

    1. The form can be signed by the clerk. I believe you can fill out the form but leave the mediator section blank and send it to the clerk’s office. The clerk will fill out the primary and secondary mediator sections and can sign and file the “order.”

      If a form specific to the new ADR Rule comes available I will post it.

  2. Nancy Jo Thomason says:

    We have had mandatory mediation in Anderson County for so long, I can’t remember the time before it was required. In Anderson, the ADR coordinator sends us a notice right around the 120 day mark with the appointed mediators on the form. Is that not how it works everywhere else?

      1. Megan says:

        The old version of ADR Rule 4 provided that the Clerk’s office was supposed to appoint a mediator within a certain time, but most of the counties I’ve practiced in haven’t done it automatically.

        Horry County would appoint a mediator, but kind of inconsistently. I had a few cases where I randomly got a mediator appointed, seemingly out of nowhere. If a mediator hadn’t been appointed, you just make a call to the person who does the appointing, and then you’d get an order appointing one.

        Appointing a mediator doesn’t do a whole lot to require a pro se litigants to participate in mediation – it’s still a court rule that is only enforceable if we specifically ask that it be included in an order. It doesn’t make sense to me that the pro se litigant is able to so effectively shift responsibility from himself to the party who decides to hire a lawyer.

  3. Wow! It is interesting how different the practice is law can vary from county to county within the same small state! We have ADR Coordinator whose job it is to appoint mediators for all family and common please cases. I am sure she may perform other functions but that is her main job. Her computer generates two names on a form notice that provides that mediation is to be completed in 240 days from date of filing or 60 days from date of the notice. It also says sanctions may be imposed if you don’t comply. We get them like clockwork in every single case and there are two names on each from the certified mediator list.

  4. Jennifer Kattan says:

    The form is now available on sccourts.org (Request for Appointment of Mediator SCADR 109).

    1. Thanks. I posted a link to that form at the bottom of the blog.

  5. Lacey Jones says:

    I am filing pro se and need to change the appointed Mediator due to a conflict of interest on the apposing side. Is this the same for to use for this request?

  6. Samuel Harrell says:

    Mandatory Mediation is a scam. It is pure and simple a way to line more Attornies pockets with money. It has done nothing to speed the dockets up. I have dealt with it twice. It is financially burdening especially in a custody case where that is the only issue.
    In one case the the first thing that was negotiated was the mother who wanted visitation after being convicted of 2 counts of Child Abuse and then in a separate case being charged with Child Neglect/Endangerment for testing positive along with the baby for methamphetamine, was that before any visitation she pass a drug test and not allow the child around the drug dealer. Upon refusal the mediator informed us that we were so far apart it would do no good to continue which was true. The scam of Mediation comes into play when we find that her refusal could not be used in court. The Mediator recommended 2 days for court.
    It took so long to get a hearing date we had to asked for an extension on the 365 day rule. The Judge would only give us 1 day. He informed the Attorneys thelat we had better settle it. So we were forced into more negotiation after paying for Mediation.
    South Carolina’s Mediation laws are no more than a criminal conspiracy for lawyer legislators to feed retired Judges more poor people’s money.
    A 3rd grade dropout could think of better.
    To not be able to use something as serious as a person not wanting to be off drugs before visiting a child violates the first rule of Family Court which is the best interest of the child. There is no scenario where that not being first and foremost could have come from any other than a group of reprobate minds.
    If you are talking about millions being divided in a long marriage that is one thing.
    But one issue? Child support is guidelines so it would not be an issue.

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