In response to the ongoing foreclosure crisis in this country, many states have implemented mediation programs to assist borrowers in finding ways to avoid foreclosure. Although Wyoming does not have a special foreclosure mediation program, you can get mediation as part of a regular lawsuit. Also, Wyoming does have a special mediation program for agricultural properties. Read on to learn about the availability of mediation in Wyoming, how the mediation process works, and how to participate in mediation.
(To learn about other options for dealing with foreclosure, visit Nolo's Foreclosure section.)
What is Foreclosure Mediation?
Foreclosure mediation is a process that is used to help homeowners avoid foreclosure by coming up with an alternate solution that benefits both the borrowers and the lender. Mediation consists of a meeting between:
- the borrowers
- their lender, and
- an impartial third-party (the mediator).
At the meeting, the parties discuss the borrower's financial situation and try to negotiate a way for the homeowner to keep the home or give up the property without going through a foreclosure. By working together, the parties are often able to reach an agreement.
Potential outcomes of mediation include:
- loan modification
- forbearance agreement
- short sale, or
- deed in lieu of foreclosure.
These are often referred to as loss mitigation options. (To get information about each of these options, see our Alternatives to Foreclosure area.)
Wyoming does not have a specific program to provide mediation for homeowners facing foreclosure. However, the court (or any party to a lawsuit) may request that a court case be assigned to a mediator to try to reach a resolution to the dispute (Wyo. Rule of Civ. Proc. 40).
Who acts as the mediator? The mediator is selected by the parties and is an active judge (different from the judge presiding over the case at hand), a retired judge, retired justice, or other qualified person. If the parties are unable to agree on a mediator, they may advise the court of their recommendations and the court will then appoint a person to serve as a mediator.
Electing mediation does not suspend the court action. Assignment of a case to mediation does not suspend any deadlines or cancel any trial hearings. The court retains jurisdiction for any and all purposes while the case is assigned to mediation.
Starting the Mediation Process
In Wyoming, most foreclosures are nonjudicial, which means the lender does not have to go through state court to get one. Instead, the lender initiates the foreclosure by recording a notice of default and election to sell in the county land records. (To learn more about the difference between judicial and nonjudicial foreclosure, and the procedures for each, see Will Your Foreclosure Take Place In or Out of Court?)
Since most foreclosures in Wyoming are nonjudicial, to get a court to hear your side of the case and to request mediation, you will have to file your own lawsuit to contest the foreclosure. For more information, see our article How to Fight a Foreclosure in Court: Nonjudicial Foreclosure.
Mediation for Agricultural Properties
Wyoming law establishes a special procedure for mediation between farmers or ranchers and their creditors. Under this program, if a farmer or lender wants to resolve a dispute involving the farmer's agricultural property and the lender’s interest in the property, he or she can elect to participate in mediation (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 11-41-108).
The lender must notify the farmer of the availability of mediation. The lender cannot file suit without first notifying the borrower of the availability of mediation services. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 11-41-108[a].)
Electing mediation may suspend the court action. The court may suspend the case to allow for mediation when the parties request it. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 11-41-107.)
For More Information on Wyoming’s Mediation Laws
The Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure can be accessed at www.courts.state.wy.us. Select “Supreme Court”, then “Court Rules” and “Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure.” To find the statutes pertaining to mediation for agricultural properties in Wyoming, go to http://legisweb.state.wy.us and click on “State Statutes and Constitution.”