If you end up going to court on the issue of temporary custody, you will first have to go through a court-ordered mediation where you and your spouse meet with a court mediator to try to resolve custody issues.
Mediation can be a way to make decisions about your children without going to court.
It is important to be prepared for this process, as many parents have no idea what to expect and end up agreeing to an arrangement they later regret.
What Happens in Child Custody Mediation?
Mediation can be a way to make decisions about your children without going to court. If you file for a court hearing or “Orders to Show Cause” regarding custody, you will be required to attend a mandatory court-ordered child custody mediation prior to proceeding with your hearing. The mediation occurs with a licensed social worker, and your attorney cannot be present.
At this court-ordered hearing, the mediator will only discuss issues of custody and the particulars of the potential “parenting plan” or “parenting agreement.” They will not discuss child support or any other issues related to your divorce case.
The mediator has several roles including help with:
- Making a parenting plan that’s in the best interest of the children
- Making a parenting plan that guarantees that children are allowed time with both parents
- Learning ways to deal with anger or resentment
Who are the Mediators?
The mediators have a master’s degree in counseling, social work, or a related field, and at least two years of experience working in mental health. Although mediators are experienced in counseling, mediation is not counseling. The sole job of the mediator in this situation is to meet with both parents and help them reach an agreement on what will be best for their child.
The mediator’s job is to:
- Listen to both of you
- Be neutral
- Help you look at different options
- Help you decide when the child will be with each parent
- Help you decide how future decisions about your child will be made
- Help you consider how best to protect your child’s safety and welfare
- Make recommendations to the judge
What Happens if an Agreement Can’t be Reached?
In some California counties, if you and the other parent can’t agree on a parenting plan through mediation, the mediator is asked to give the court a written recommendation. It will contain the mediator’s opinion about what parenting arrangement will be in your child’s best interests.
Each county is different. In Orange County and Los Angeles County the court mediators are confidential and they do not report back to the court with any recommendations. However, in Riverside and San Diego counties, the court mediator will make recommendations to the court even if you don’t reach an agreement.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you have the right to have separate interviews during mediation. If there is a current criminal and/or civil restraining order, you have the right to have a support person with you.