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

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.

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