“What Should I Expect In Family Law Mediation?”

The State of California requires that in all cases involving custody and visitation of minors (and even later modifications) the parents must attend mediation to try and resolve the matter informally. The process varies from county to county in the actual details, but there are some standard practices:

Generally, attorneys are not allowed to participate in the mediation. This is because the court wants the parties to work out their schedule without outside interference.

The issues to be discussed are only custody and visitation—the mediator will not address financial issues or other issues, such as domestic violence restraining orders, etc.

The parties will usually meet in the same room with a qualified (and trained) mediator. If there has been domestic violence in the relationship or a restraining order filed, you should let the mediator know and they will conduct the discussion in separate rooms instead of face to face.

The mediator will be attempting to help you reach an agreement that is in the best interests of the minors, and will encourage both sides to compromise and work together on a schedule that is best for the children involved.

You do not have to reach an agreement if the demands of the other side are unreasonable or would be harmful to the children.

You will have a chance to bring up concerns to the mediator, such as child abuse, drug or alcohol use, past history of violence, criminal behavior, or unsafe living conditions.

Mediation cannot solve all custody and visitation matters—many matters simply need to be heard by the judge and a decision given based on the evidence. However, in some cases it is a good chance to work out a schedule that isn’t set by a judge, works for both parties, and has some flexibility in it to allow for the common hassles and problems of daily life.

Please note that because the procedures vary from county to county, you should speak to a local attorney familiar with the rules and policies of the county that your case is located in for more information.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.