Family Code section 3170 requires mediation whenever issues of custody or
visitation are in dispute. This applies whenever a party to the case wants to
obtain or change a custody or visitation order and the other party does not
agree to the proposed plan.
is a form of negotiation between people with the help of a professional
mediator who will assist them in reaching an agreement regarding child
custody/timeshare and other parenting issues. Family Court Services mediation
is provided free of charge to parties.
purpose of mediation is to:
Help parents understand the impact their conflict has on their children.
Develop and agreement that assures the children frequent and continuing contact
with both parents and that assures the health, safety, and welfare of the
Achieve a resolution of the issues of custody and rights to parenting time that
is in the best interest of the children.
DO I BEGIN MEDIATION?
the Court has referred you to mediation, you must meet the Parent Orientation obligation
before participating in mediation. Either your mediation appointment will be
set in court, or the Mediator to whom your case is assigned will telephone you
to set up your meditation appointment after both parties have completed the Parent
Orientation obligation. Call or go to Family Court Services or click on Parent
Orientation class for further information.
MANY MEDIATION SESSIONS DOES IT TAKE?
parents/parties reach agreement in a single two-hour session. Other parents/parties
require several sessions.
THE CHILDREN OR THE PARENTS’ ATTORNEYS ATTEND MEDIATION?
Only parents attend the initial session. Attorneys are not included in the
mediation session. Children may be interviewed by the Mediator at another time
if it is deemed to be appropriate.
PROPERTY ISSUES OR CHILD SUPPORT BE DISCUSSED?
usually. The sessions will focus on these questions: When will the children
spend time with each of their parents/or with each party? How will the parents/parties
make co-parenting decisions about the children while each is with them? How
will the parents/parties plan to co-parent the children?
ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF MEDIATION?
process of solving family problems in court can be very expensive, and is
likely to intensify the angry feelings parents may have towards each other.
Custody “battles” put tremendous pressure on the parents and the children. In
mediation the parents have an opportunity to resolve some of their differences,
and can learn to co-parent for the sake of their children and themselves. In
mediation the parents are empowered to decide what is in the best interests of
their children, rather than leaving it up to the court to decide.
ARE THE POSSIBLE OUTCOMES?
the parents reach an agreement, a written copy will be prepared by the Mediator
and will be sent to them, their attorneys, and the Court in advance of the next
court hearing. A Judge can adopt their agreement as the on-going parenting
plan court order.
the parents are unable to reach an agreement, the Mediator will prepare the
report to show the areas about which the parents/parties could agree and any
issues about which they were unable to agree. Typically the Mediator will make
a recommendation to the Judge about any issues about which the parents/parties
were unable to agree. The Judge will determine how to resolve the
parents/parties disputes. It is possible that the parents/parties could choose
to participate in and pay for a child custody investigation conducted by a
private Child Custody Evaluator and the results will be taken into
consideration by the Court. An evidentiary hearing might be offered at another
day and time, or another remedy could be offered or ordered by the Judge,
depending upon the specifics of the continuing dispute.