As a Judicial Officer, I encountered cases where a party owed the other party hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid spousal and child support. By law, the interest rate on unpaid arrears is 10%,. As a result, many times the obligor would not have sufficient funds to even pay the interest that accumulated each month, so that the arrearage would continue to increase substantially over time. This would pose a hardship on both parties, and often times create a situation where the obligor would stop paying altogether. This would force the oblige to file a contempt action, often with little success in terms of receiving the amount that was owed. The judicial officer had very little discretion, and the courtroom often was not effective in resolving these types of disputes.
A trained mediator has many more options at his or her disposal to allow the parties to reach agreements on arrears related issues. My experience is that without the pressure of a courtroom setting, agreements can be made that are satisfactory to both parties on these sometimes very difficult issues. This allows both parties to achieve finality, and to focus their energies on the other more important issues-such as the children of the proceeding!