Important Requirements: COPE Class & Mediation
Seminar for Separating Parents ("COPE" Class) and Mediation
Working through co-parenting and visitation issues can be one of the most difficult things for parents to handle when they separate. Family Court has two programs available to help parents deal with these issues. A seminar may be required for parents who are separating, and Family Mediation Center services are required for parents who cannot work out their own custody agreement. Read on for more information about both.
WARNING!Do not bring your children to court with you, do not talk about the court case with your children, and do not show them any papers about the case. The court rules do not allow children to participate in any part of your court case unless the judge orders it.
Family Mediation Center
Parents must try mediation if they cannot work out a custody and visitation schedule on their own. The Family Mediation Center can help parents try to work out a plan for legal custody, physical custody, a weekly visitation schedule, a summer schedule, a holiday schedule, and vacation time.
Judges will usually refer you and the other parent to the Family Mediation Center if custody and visitation issues are in dispute. You can also request a referral to the Family Mediation Center if you have a case filed at family court. You can use the following form to ask your judge to refer you to mediation:
Request and Order for Family Mediation Center (pdf fillable)
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.
Request and Order to Waive Mediation (pdf fillable)
For more information about the Family Mediation Center and the mediation process, please visit Family Mediation Center.
Seminar for Separating Parents ("COPE" Class)
Children may have a hard time adjusting when parents separate. To help lessen the impact on the children, the Court might require the parents to attend a seminar for separating parents, sometimes called the "COPE" class.
There are several providers for this class. Your judge's staff should be able to direct you to the provider they prefer if the judge has ordered that you complete a class.