What is the Mediation Process in a California Child Custody Case?
In any California child custody case, including divorce and separation cases, whenever a Request for Order (RFO) hearing addressing child custody and visitation issues are filed, the Court will order that the parties attend mediation at no cost through the court’s mediation department prior to the RFO hearing date. Although the law requires that the parents participate in mediation, there is not a requirement that they reach an agreement.
Mediation is intended to reduce conflict between the parties by encouraging cooperation and assisting parents in creating their own parenting plan the meet the needs of their children with their best interests in mind.
The court mediators are generally trained professionals who have at least a Master’s Degree, have extensive experience in psychology and marital/family counseling and are trained in conflict resolution.
In mediation, the mediator meets with the parties wither together and/or individually. If there has been domestic violence between the parties, the mediation is usually held in separate sessions with each parent for safety reasons and to avoid any appearance of intimidation.
The mediator works to assist the parties in focusing on parenting arrangements that are in the best interests of their children and can put together a partial or full parenting agreement schedule (including legal custody, parenting plans, holiday and vacation schedules, transportation and other issues) depending on what the parties are able to agree upon in mediation.
Parents can sometimes resolve all of their parenting issues in mediation, sometimes only a partial agreement can be reached, and otherwise no agreement is reached. Mediators only draft agreements that are acceptable to both parties. If the mediation agreement is still agreeable to both parties at the time of the RFO hearing, in can be adopted and incorporated into a court order.
Only the parties attend mediation, with no attorneys, spouses or other family members present, although a second session can sometimes be requested so that the mediator can speak with the parties’ children, if it is believed that such feedback would be helpful in assisting the parties to develop parenting plans.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Orange County divorce attorney at The Maggio Law Firm, by visiting www. maggiolawfirm.com or calling (949) 553-0304.