What is the Purpose of Mediation?

What is the Purpose of Mediation?

One of the most unfortunate consequences of parental separation or divorce is the effect on the children involved. Children are often worried about the practical aspects of the situation, such as where they will live, who will take care of them, and if they will be able to see both parents. While there are misconceptions about fighting for custody and how it traumatizes all involved, this doesn’t have to be the case. Mediation is a very real option for those seeking an alternative to traditional custody battles. Our attorneys at Castellanos & Associates, APLC have helped countless families survive this challenging transition as seamlessly as possible, and depending on your case, mediation could be the solution for you.

As parents going through custody litigation, it is doubtful you are openly communicating or even willing to trust each other at this point. Before the Court can make custody orders, parents must try to resolve custody issues with a custody mediator. Mediation provides a neutral and controlled setting in which parents can agree on legal and physical custody, periods of responsibility, childcare, and other needs. Legal custody refers to how decisions regarding the child’s life and upbringing will be made, while physical custody refers to the parenting schedule. These custody agreements are centered on helping the child maintain relationships with both parents, and include transportation, holiday, and vacation time as well. Once agreed upon by both parents, the Custody Mediator will write up the agreement, and a judge will sign it into a legally binding court order.

How to Schedule A Mediation Appointment?

You must have a Family Law case number to schedule a mediation appointment. In addition, parents must have a pending court hearing or be in the process of filing for a hearing and have a child custody or visitation dispute. For parties wishing to have an appointment at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse - Downtown Los Angeles, the location is located at 111 N. Hill Street, Rm. 241. The general telephone number for all locations is (213) 830-0835.

How Do You Prepare for Mediation?

Mediation through Family Court Services requires parents to complete a parent orientation program online. If this is inconvenient, you may also choose to attend the Our Children First In-Person Program offered on the first Thursday of each month at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Room 233, 111 N. Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. To learn more, you may call (213) 830-0835.

What Happens in Mediation?

During mediation, the appointed mediator will ask questions about your family history, any developmental needs your child may have, specifics regarding your schedule, and more. Private sessions can also be requested if there is a domestic violence issue--the priority of the courts is to provide a safe future for the sake of your children, who may or may not be interviewed for more useful feedback.

What Is Included in An Agreement?

The most important thing to remember about your agreement is its official nature--it is a court order you both must follow once it has been signed. The agreement will contain the details of your parenting schedule and cannot be ignored.

Can I Change My Mind About the Agreement?

Our Los Angeles divorce lawyers of Castellanos & Associates, APLC understand you may be unhappy with the agreement and wish to cancel it for the benefit of you and your child. The good news is, you can file a cancellation request to the Family Court Services Mediation Office before the next court hearing, or within 10 days of signing the agreement. The Mediator may ask you to waive the 10-day waiting period. You will have to weigh the pros and cons of this decision.

What Happens If We Do Not Reach an Agreement?

Legally, you and your child’s other parent are required to attempt the mediation process but cannot be forced to agree. If this is the case for you, the mediators involved in your case must notify the court that an agreement was not reached.

Is Mediation Confidential?

In Los Angeles County, mediation is confidential. Mediators will not make reports to the court regarding issues discussed in mediation. The mediator may only submit to the court agreements that are mutually acceptable to both parents and signed by both parents. Mediators will inform the court if:

  • A parent does not appear for mediation
  • Parents cannot reach an agreement
  • There are child abuse allegations being investigated by the Department of Children and Family Services

Mediators may recommend a child custody evaluation. The mediator may also recommend that an attorney is appointed to represent the child. Mediators are mental health professionals and therefore mandated to report of suspected child abuse to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Mediators are also required to report if you threaten to harm yourself or others.

What If There Has Been Violence Between the Parents?

If you are fearful or intimidated by your child’s other parent, particularly in a domestic violence situation, the Family Court Services Mediation Office offers separate sessions, where you do not have to conduct the mediation with the other parent in the same room. As a victim of domestic violence, you have rights and our trusted Los Angeles family law attorneys will go above and beyond in advocating on your behalf.

Who Are the Mediators?

The mediators are licensed certified court employees with a wealth of experience, and Family Court Services requires a master’s degree in social science and a minimum of 5 years post-masters experience working with families and children.

To read more information from Family Court Services at the Los Angeles Superior Court, click here.

Contact Us Today

Despite all this, we at Castellanos & Associates, APLC understand you are likely feeling confused and unsure of how to proceed. Allow us to advocate on you and your family’s behalf--you won’t regret having our skilled and efficient Los Angeles divorce lawyers on your side.

If you are interested in scheduling an initial consultation with a member of our firm, you may contact us by calling (323) 212-5599.