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Are mediations confidential in Rhode Island?

A divorce can bring up a lot of negative emotions and personal details for couples in Rhode Island. People may have decided to end their marriage for a variety of unpleasant reasons. If people take their divorce to open court, these details can become a matter of public record. Additionally, people's financial information, child custody arrangement and final property division can also become public knowledge. This is because court records are public -- including many of those in family court.

However, not everyone who divorces has to have a trial in court. Instead, some couples may choose to use a mediator to help settle their divorce legal issues. People who value their privacy may wonder if mediations provide some privacy.

Under Rhode Island General Laws section 9-19-44, mediators cannot be compelled to share notes, case summaries, files, reports, interviews or other work product created during a mediation. This means that all of the work product created by a mediator is confidential. Under this section, this information cannot be shared even during subsequent judicial proceedings including the parties involved in the mediation, or any other participant in the mediation process.

In other words, the mediator will not be forced to reveal the details of a divorce mediation in a court proceeding involving one of the spouses. This makes the process much more private than if the court were deciding issues.

In order for this section to apply, however, couples must work with a qualified mediator, as defined by the code. People should seek legal advice to learn about how to keep their divorce private and other advantages of divorce mediation. An attorney can often provide these details.

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Law Office of Steven J. Hirsch, Esq

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