ANNULMENT, DIVORCE AND SEPARATION
I. In this section:
(a) "Mediation" means a process in which a neutral third party facilitates settlement discussions between parties.
(b) "Mediator" means a family mediator, certified pursuant to RSA 328-C, who has contracted with the court to participate in court-referred mediation under this section.
II. The court may order the parties to participate in mediation upon the request of either party or at the discretion of the court. If the parties are ordered to participate in mediation under this section, all issues relevant to their case, including but not limited to property settlement and alimony also shall be mediated unless the court orders otherwise. Mediation may not be ordered pursuant to this section if the case involves minor children and the parties are eligible for mediation under RSA 461-A:7.
III. Reasons the court may choose not to order mediation include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) A showing of undue hardship to a party.
(b) An agreement between the parties for alternate dispute resolution procedures.
(c) A finding of alcoholism or drug abuse unless all parties agree to mediation.
(d) An allegation of serious psychological or emotional abuse.
(e) Lack of an available, suitable mediator within a reasonable time period.
IV. The court shall not order mediation if there is a finding of domestic violence as defined in RSA 173-B:1, unless all parties agree to mediation.
V. The mediator has no authority to make a decision or impose a settlement upon the parties. The mediator shall attempt to focus the attention of the parties upon their needs and interests rather than upon their positions. Any settlement is entirely voluntary. In the absence of settlement, the parties lose none of their rights to a resolution of their dispute through litigation.
VI. Either party may move to have the mediator replaced for good cause.
VII. Mediation proceedings shall be held in private, and all communications, oral or written, made during the proceedings, which relate to the issues being mediated, whether made by the mediator, or a party, or any other person present, shall be privileged and confidential and shall not be disclosed and shall not be admissible in court, except as provided in RSA 328-C:9.
VIII. Any mediated agreement reached by the parties on all or some of the disputed issues shall be reduced to writing, signed by each party, and filed with the court as soon as practicable.
IX. The parties shall participate at mediation in good faith. If the mediator determines that mediation is not helpful in resolving the dispute, the mediator shall report that fact to the court and return the matter to the court for adjudication of the underlying issues.
Source. 2006, 147:1. 2009, 21:4, eff. Jan. 1, 2010.