In most of the counties in the Upstate, mediation is required before litigants can proceed to trial in Family Court, Common Pleas Court, and Probate Court. The result has been that many cases settle either during or soon after the mediation, thereby easing the courts’ caseloads and saving litigants time and money. Like many good ideas, however, mandatory mediation had an unintended consequence in that parties with little or no financial resources now faced an additional expense.
The hourly fees of private mediators in the Upstate area can be prohibitive for many people. Thus was born the Upstate Mediation Center, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization which provides mediation services at a flat rate based on income and which does not refuse services because of an inability to pay.
All of this requires more mediators—people of diverse professional and community backgrounds who are willing to be trained in mediation skills and to volunteer a few hours a week, month or year.
The Family Court Mediation Training is offered by the South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division and other private organizations at various locations throughout the year. The UMC offers a limited number of “scholarships” to help defray the cost of the course in exchange for a commitment to volunteer once or twice a month during the year following the training.
For more information on how to become a volunteer please contact Richard Kahn or Jennifer Olmert at the UMC at (864) 370-9771.