Parents going through a divorce or legal separation need to know how their child-rearing responsibilities will be divided. Ideally, the parents work together to establish a parenting plan that lays out the parties’ expectations about visitation and decision-making authority. If the parents cannot do so, or if the judge does not approve the parents’ plan, the case is referred to child custody mediation.
The purposes of child custody mediation are threefold:
- To reduce hard feelings between the parents;
- To help the parents develop a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child and that helps ensure the child’s continuing contact with both parents; and
- To come to a child visitation agreement that is in the child’s best interest.
Mediation proceedings are confidential and are conducted by well-trained, neutral parties. Part of the mediator’s job is to help the family transition into its new relationship. The mediator is required to consider the “best interest of the child” and the child’s “health, safety, [and] welfare” throughout the mediation process. The mediator is also required to attempt to control for any power imbalances between the parties.
By law, the mediator must do the following:
- Review the court file and intake form;
- Conduct a parent orientation that explains the process and the child’s developmental needs;
- If necessary, conduct interviews with the child;
- Helps the parties develop a parenting plan; and
- Discontinue the mediation if allegations of child abuse or neglect arise.
At the end of the mediation, if the parties come to an agreement, the mediator creates a written parenting plan. The mediator also puts together a description of any additional case management or court procedures that may be necessary to resolve custody or visitation issues.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in divorce, child custody, and child support matters, including child custody mediations. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can guide you through the mediation process: (415) 293-8314.