Mediation in California is a form of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, facilitated by a mediator, which allows parents of a child custody and visitation dispute an opportunity to resolve their disagreements without a litigated hearing. As pointed out in Family Code 3170, mediation is a mandatory process in California that must take place before a contested issue regarding custody and visitation is heard in a litigated hearing. Mediation has a specific purpose and mediators should adhere to certain guidelines and standards when conducting mediation.
There are certain standards that apply to mediation services. The rules for mediation are set forth in the California Rules of Court 5.210. Rule 5.210 applies to court-connected child custody mediation and addresses the authority of mediation, purpose of mediation, mediation definitions, Responsibility for mediation services, mediation process, training, continuing education, and experience requirements for mediator, mediation supervisor, and family court services director, education and training providers, and ethics as it relates to California mediators and California mediation.
The purpose of mediation is to help the parents of a child custody dispute resolve their disagreements and build a parenting plan together in mediation that reflects the overall best interest of the children. The purpose of mediation is outlined in Family Code 3161.
Mediation may not be able to help all parents work out their disputes. Some cases are too complex or far too acrimonious. In some cases, a parent will change his/her mind after signing an agreement in mediation. If you sign an agreement in mediation and later change your mind, you may be able to cancel your agreement by submitting your cancellation request to mediation services in writing. However, you will want to consult an attorney to learn how to properly cancel your agreement and the timeline upon which you can do it.
If you are involved in mediation you will want to consult an attorney in your area to help you learn about the mediation process, standards, purpose, your rights, and what mediators can and cannot do in mediation.
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