Family Court Mediation
One of the most important changes to the new family court system is the requirement that parents who are not able to agree on shared parenting responsibilities must attempt to mediate their dispute.
Mediation is an informal process of working out differences between people using the help of a neutral third party called a mediator. Parents make the decisions; the mediator has no authority to decide any issue.
Some parents are not required to attempt mediation. For example, mediation may not be required in cases where there is a history of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, substance abuse, mental illness, or a significant power imbalance. Every family court office provides premediation screening to determine if these factors might prevent parents from meaningfully participating in mediation.
If mediation is appropriate, the family court will designate a person or an agency to conduct the mediation. Parents must pay for mediation at an hourly rate based on their combined annual incomes. Many mediators volunteer their time to mediate cases for indigent parents.
The mediators listed are those who have been "approved" by the Supreme Court of Appeals as "Court-Approved Family Court Mediators." To be a "Court-Approved," a mediator must, at a minimum, have
- a four-year degree from an accredited college or university;
- completed a forty-hour family mediation course approved by the Supreme Court;
- completed two observations of family court mediations;
- completed three comediations with experienced family court mediators;
- professional liability insurance; and
- agree to complete twelve hours of family court mediator continuing education every two years.