Child Custody & Visitation Mediation
Child Custody & Visitation Mediation: Focusing on Children's Needs
When parents separate or divorce, decisions need to be made about custody, visitation and how children will share time with their parents. These are important decisions. Sometimes they are the most difficult. California law states that when parents cannot reach an agreement, they must first meet with a professional mediator before their hearing.
Mediators for Mono County Superior Court are not “ Child Custody & Visitation Mediations”. This means our court mediators do not make custody recommendations to the court. The role of the Mono County Superior Court mediators is to help parents to reach agreement regarding custody and visitation that can be presented to the court.
Since you have filed documents that seek an order for child custody or visitation, you have been referred to mediation prior to the hearing date. This mediation is mandatory, and your case will not be heard in the court until you have completed mediation. It is your responsibility to contact one of the court-approved mediators on the list that is provide on the link on this webpage and arrange for mediation prior to the court date.
Mediation is required by the court because approximately 65% of the cases regarding child custody and visitation are resolved in mediation and there is no need for the parties to appear in court for an order. The process is very simple. Both parents meet with a third party mediator. The job for that mediator is to help the parents arrive at an agreement for child custody and visitation. The mediator cannot make an order, and in our county the mediator does not make any recommendation to the judge. What is discussed in mediation is confidential and will be not be shared with the court.
It is highly recommended that you watch a video prepared by the California state Judicial Council before going to your mediation. It will help you form the frame of mind needed to successfully complete the mediation. The video is excellent, but before you watch it you must understand the difference between recommending mediation (called recommending counselling in the video), and non-recommending mediation. If the parties cannot reach an agreement in a recommending county, the mediator will prepare and forward to the court a recommended temporary custody and visitation plan. If the parties cannot reach an agreement in a non-recommending county (that’s us), the mediator merely checks a box that there is no agreement and the parties argue before the judge at the hearing. We are a non-recommending mediation County, that means your mediator will make no recommendation to the court and you will need to argue your case before the judge regarding custody and visitation.
Goals of Child Custody & Visitation Mediation
- To help parents create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of their child(ren).
- To help parents develop a parenting plan that enables their child(ren) to have contact with parents in ways that are appropriate for the safety and wellbeing of the child(ren).
- Help parents learn to co-parent.
Setting a Date for Child Custody Recommending Counseling
The date and time for child custody & visitation mediation is arranged with the mediator.
Who should I bring to attend the Child Custody & Visitation Mediation?
Do not bring your child(ren), friends, relative, spouse, significant others… with you to the mediation. Mediation is just for the parents. The parents can have a silent support person with them in session.
If the children don’t go to mediation, how will the child(ren)’s wishes and needs be considered?
Their wishes and needs will be considered by you, the other parent(s) and the court. The parents are the people who know your child(ren) best, and they are the best people to determine what your child(ren)’s living arrangements should be. As you work with the mediator, the mediator will help you understand the choices available to parents, arrangements that often work well for children your child(ren)’s ages, what children need as their parents are separating, and how parents can best meet these needs. The mediator will help you and the other parent address your parenting concerns and focus on what you each parent believes is best for the child(ren).
My child wants to talk with the judge. Should I bring them to court for the hearing?
No. If you believe your child(ren) wishes to speak with the judge, then explain that in your court paperwork. Do not bring your child(ren) to court unless a judge or a commissioner specifically tells you.
What if the other parent doesn’t go to the mediation appointment?
Keep your court date. When you return to court, then the judge/commissioner will decide what should happen next.
For further information, including a free parent education course, and additional resources to help families understand the divorce and separation process, please see these links: