Participation in custody mediation is required for all parents with a pending custody case. Attending the custody mediation program is required before their case can be heard by a Judge. The purpose of custody mediation is giving parents the opportunity to decide custody issues for their children. Parents meet with the custody mediator who controls the session. The mediator, appointed by the Courts, is a neutral party and has no authority to decide the case. The role of the mediator is to guide the parents to reach an agreement.
There are several advantages of custody mediation. it allows parents to determine custody arrangements for their children. Mediators are specially trained to help parents work through their differences and arrive at an agreement. their works reduce the stress, time, and the expense of going to Court. There is no cost to attend Court ordered custody mediation. If parents reach an agreement in mediation, a Judge who knows very little about the parties and their children will not have to decide their case.
Generally, parents with pending custody claims are required to attend custody mediation. If a person does not want to attend, a written request to waive custody mediation must be filed with the Clerk of Superior Court. Waiving of custody mediation does not automatically occur. A Judge decides whether to waive custody mediation. Valid reasons to waive mediation include a person residing greater than 50 miles away, abuse of the children, substance abuse, severe psychological or psychiatric problems or participation in private mediation.
The mediation process consists of three steps. Participation may be either in person or on-line. The initial step is attendance at an orientation session. This is a brief explanation of how the process works and the advantages of custody mediation. The second step is completion of a parenting class. The final step is a session with the custody mediator.
During the mediation session, only custody or visitation issues may be discussed. No financial issues are allowed to be discussed. If the parents reach an agreement, a Parenting Plan will be prepared by the mediator. The agreement will be sent to both parents to sign. Once the Parenting Plan is signed, it is presented to the Judge for signature. When the Judge signs the Parenting Plan, it becomes a binding and enforceable order of the Court.
In the event the parents do not reach an agreement, the case will be scheduled for hearing. All issues discussed in the mediation session are confidential and cannot be used in a subsequent Court hearing. If you need assistance with custody issues, please contact the Law Office of Stephen Robertson. Our skilled and experienced attorneys will guide you through the process.