Divorce Mediation (Court-Ordered) In the event that court intervention is necessary to determine a custody issue, parents are required to participate in a court-ordered mediation program relating to their child custody issues prior to their court appearance. This court ordered requirement involves the attendance of both parents and a court divorce mediator where the sole agenda is to try and find a solution to the custody issues involved. The parents’ attorneys are not permitted to attend this process, so it is important to be prepared and understand that any agreements made during a mediation session are influential on the final custody determination. Therefore, one should not agree to a custody arrangement that they may later regret. What to Expect During Divorce Mediation Many parents find divorce mediation to be very useful as it is a way to avoid going to court regarding custody and other parenting issues. During the mediation process, the mediator will not discuss or make agreements regarding child support, spousal support, or any other issues relating to the divorce or separation. The mediator’s only role with the parents is to discuss child custody and future parenting plans and agreements. Often, a court mediator will push parents to settle their custody issues while at the mediation hearing. This pressure to settle is another reason why it is important for a parent to know the particulars of his or her own case and know when to settle and know when to avoid making unfavorable compromises and settlements. An experienced and knowledgeable mediator should spend his or her time during this process helping to (1) create a parenting plan that takes into account the Best Interest of the Children; (2) create a parenting plan that allocates time with the children to both parents; and (3) inform and educate the parents regarding issues of anger, resentment or other emotional hurdles in the custody process. It is important to remember that while a divorce mediator may exert some pressure for the parents to settle, the parents are not required to reach any agreement during mediation if they absolutely cannot agree. In these cases, custody will be left to the court’s determination. What Do Divorce Mediators Do? A Divorce Mediator should:
- – Listen to both parents
- – Remain neutral
- – Help the parents look at different options.
- – Help the parents decide when the child will be with each parent.
- – Help the parents decide how future decisions about the child or children will be made.
- – Help the parents consider the best ways to protect the child or children’s welfare and safety.