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Friday, March 22, 2019
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Divorce Library > Child Custody Mediation

Child Custody Mediation
When parents separate or divorce in California and child custody is contested, the parties can attend child custody mediation to sort out their disagreements.
Child custody mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that may be scheduled by appointment with the appropriate County Family Court Services mediation department or Conciliation Courts.

In a contested child custody matter, child custody mediation is often required before the parties can have a litigated hearing. In other words, the parties must first attempt to sort out their child custody and visitation disagreements through child custody mediation before a Superior Court judge or commissioner will hear the child custody dispute.

Typically in child custody mediation, both parents are asked to complete a child custody mediation information form, which helps the mediator learn more about the child custody and visitation issues being disputed before meeting with the parents. The mediator may meet with the parents together or individually and will typically facilitate the discussion in attempts to help the parents resolve their disputes. In child custody mediation, the parties may resolve all, some, or none of the child custody issues being disputed.

In counties where mediation is confidential, the mediator will not report to the court what was discussed in mediation. Mediators may report to the court a signed mutual agreement which has been mutually accepted by both parties. Mediators may recommend a child custody evaluation or investigation or that an attorney be appointed to represent the child. Mediators are generally mandated reporters of child abuse, which means they are required to report suspicion of child abuse to Child Protective Services or CPS.

California Family Code section 3170-3173 describes the availability of child custody mediation and addresses child custody and visitation disputes involving modifications, domestic violence, adoptions, paternity, and stepparent and grandparent petitions. California Family Code section 3160-3165 describes the general provisions of child custody mediation and its purpose.

However, since the specific details of child custody mediation and mediators may differ from county to county in California and can change over time, you may want to inquire with the appropriate Superior Court courthouse for more information. Further, you would be wise to consult a divorce attorney or family law attorney to help you learn more about the local processes and local rules for child custody mediation and learn if child custody mediation is the right approach for your situation.

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