Family Mediation Center
Mediation is a process in which parents work together, with the assistance of a neutral third person, to develop a Parenting Agreement that is in the best interests of their children. Mediation is not counseling or an attempt to reconcile. Mediation provides an environment for parents to resolve their parenting issues. Mediation is a confidential process. Nothing discussed in mediation will be provided to the Court except the written Parenting Agreement that is created by the parents or information about non-attendance.
Generally, parents must attempt mediation after filing a contested child custody case if they cannot work out child custody and visitation issues on their own. In addition to divorce and custody cases, mediation can take place in guardianship cases, cases where one party is out of state (phone and/or teleconference), cases where child protective services is involved and cases where there is a history of domestic violence.
FYI!Unmarried parents who do not have a family court custody case, but who are ordered to pay child support may request mediation through the Access and Visitation Program. This program affords parents who are ordered to pay child support, but who are unwilling or unable to pursue custody through Family Court, an opportunity to explore resolution of access and visitation issues through mediation. To be eligible, there must be an open child support case and the parents cannot already have a custody order from Family Court. If you are interested in this program, you can complete the self-referral form in English or in Spanish and return it to the address listed on the form.
The Family Mediation Center assists parents in resolving all non-financial issues. Generally, the following issues are discussed in mediation:
- Legal Custody: how important decisions about the child will be made.
- Physical Custody: when the child will spend time with each parent.
- Holidays and Special Times: where the child will spend holidays and special times.
- Vacation Time: how many vacation days each parent will have with the child and how much notice is required.
- Transportation and Exchanges: who will provide transportation and where to meet for child exchanges.
- Special Provisions: any additional agreements the parents create.
Mediators are not Judges or Attorneys. They will not make final decisions and cannot represent the parents or give them legal advice. Mediators are neutral third persons who encourage open communication and assist parents in developing a Parenting Agreement that both parents help create. Before the Parenting Agreement is submitted to the Court, the parents are encouraged to review it with an attorney before signing it. If no agreement is reached, the Court will hold a trial to determine what is in the best interests of the children.
Parents can also re-mediate after they have created a Parenting Agreement, if they need to make changes. Both parents must contact FMC to request re-mediation and pay all outstanding fees with FMC before a re-mediation appointment will be scheduled.
There are fees for mediation services. FMC uses a sliding scale based on each party’s financial status to determine fees for services. Payment for FMC services is not contingent upon the outcome of or satisfaction with mediation or the duration of time spent and is independent of court and filing fees. Parents receiving public assistance may have their fees waived by providing written proof.
The court may order parents to attempt mediation, or parents can request their own referral by filling out the following form and turning it in to the judge for approval:
If there is a history of child abuse or domestic violence, the judge may waive the mediation requirement. You can use the following forms to ask the judge to waive mediation in your case.
The Family Mediation Center is located in Building B at the Family Courthouse, and is open Monday – Friday from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. You can reach the Family Mediation Center by calling (702) 455-4186.
For more information about the mediation process, you can watch the following videos: