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Mediation Handbook For Parents
The Third Judicial District Court uses a Domestic Relations Mediation Program for all contested cases having to do with child custody or visitation.
This is a step-by-step explanation of what will occur after you have filed your case. As part of this packet, you will also receive a brochure describing the mediation program in more detail; a questionnaire and child(ren) information sheet to be completed and brought with you to mediation, a Financial Information Form, child(ren) information sheet and a Mediation Sliding Fee Scale.
MEDIATION IS NOT MARRIAGE COUNSELING, BUT IS INTENDED TO HELP YOU AND THE OTHER PARENT WORK FOR AND IN THE BEST INTEREST OF YOUR CHILD(REN). MEDIATION IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU AND THE OTHER PARENT TO SAVE ATTORNEY AND COURT COSTS BY REACHING A MUTUAL AGREEMENT CONCERNING YOUR CHILD(REN). TOGETHER, YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR YOUR CHILD(REN), RATHER THAN HAVING A JUDGE DECIDE WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR FAMILY.
- You, as parents, are in Court requesting your rights as parents. If you and the other parent have already reached an agreement on the custody and visitation you both want for your child(ren);
- You must put your agreement in writing in the form of a Parenting Plan.
- File the Parenting Plan with the Court for approval.
- This must be done whether or not either of you has an attorney.
- If you have not reached an agreement or the Court did not approve your parenting plan, you will begin the mediation program. The Mediator will attempt to work out your differences and help you reach an agreement in writing in the form of a Parenting Plan. This must be done whether or not either of you has an attorney.
- You have received an Order and Notice of Mediation with this packet, which gives you the date, time, location and mediator’s name. If there is a conflict with the date and time, you must file a motion and order with your assigned Judge. You are still required to attend mediation until notified otherwise by the Court.The questionnaire along with the child(ren) information sheet and child information sheet included in this packed must be completed and brought with you to the scheduled session. This questionnaire provides the mediator with specific information regarding your case.
- If the court has approved a telephonic mediation, please make sure that you email the questionnaire, child(ren) information sheet and proof of income prior to your scheduled mediation. The court’s email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mediation is court ordered and mandatory. Thus, if you do not appear, your case will be forwarded to your assigned Judge for possible imposition of a fine or otherwise.
- Average time spent in mediation is three hours, but can be extended for as much as two additional hours. Your mediator will advise you if the additional time and costs will be necessary.
- The mediation sessions must be completed within forty-five (45) days of the date of the Order and Notice of Mediation. The mediator reports to the Court on the success of the mediation.
- Whether you agree to all or some of the issues:
- Mediator will help you prepare a Proposed Parenting Plan which must be signed by both of you
- The mediator delivers the original signed Proposed Parenting Plan to the Office of Mediation for review by the Mediation Program Manager.
- A copy of the Proposed Parenting Plan is forwarded to you or your attorney for a ten-day review.
- Objections to the Proposed Parenting Plan within this ten-day review period shall be directed to the Mediation Program Manager by written letter.
- If there are no objections to the Proposed Parenting Plan within the ten-day review, the Final Parenting Plan will be filed in Court. A copy will be forwarded to the parties and/or their attorneys.
- If during mediation, agreement is not reached on all of the issues, the Court will schedule a hearing at which time the Judge will make a decision for the parties.
- A final order on your case will not be signed by the Judge until mediation has been paid in full by both parties. Payment is due by 4 p.m., the day following mediation.
- If you and the other parent reach an agreement about your child(ren) independent of mediation, you must still complete a Parenting Plan.
- File the Parenting Plan with the Court.
- Once the Parenting Plan is approved by the assigned Judge, the Judge will sign an Order Adopting Parenting Plan and forward a copy to the parties and/or their attorneys.
- Mediation will be canceled.