If you and your child’s other parent are involved in a custody dispute in California, the court will refer you to attend child custody mediation before you return to court. This process can help you resolve your conflicts and might help set the stage for more positive parenting collaboration between you and your child’s other parent.
What is child custody mediation?
Child custody mediation is a process for parents involved in a child custody dispute to resolve their issues with the guidance of a neutral mediator. The mediator, who is hired by the court, is usually a counselor with specialized training. The entire process is confidential and is usually attended by both parents unless there is a history of domestic violence or an active restraining order, in which case the parents can have separate sessions. At the end of the process, the mediator does not make any recommendations to the court as the process is confidential, and if the parents have not reached a full agreement, the rest of the issues are settled by the court.
What are the goals of child custody mediation?
This process is meant to help the parents learn to collaborate more amicably, reach a custody and parenting agreement that works for the entire family and figure out a parenting plan that focuses on encouraging the children to spend time with both parents.
Before the process begins, the parents will need to attend an orientation meeting to understand how the process works. If one of the parents is not in the state, they can arrange for alternative child custody mediation sessions. If a parent does not go to the mediation session, they will need to explain to the court why they were absent. The best outcome of the process is reaching an agreement that serves the best interests of the child and meets the family’s needs.