What is "child custody mediation"?

When parents cannot agree on the custody or visitation issues surrounding their children, a judge will send the parents to mediation before hearing the issues. In the mediated sessions, the mediator will listen to each side and offer up suggestions to help the parties come to a mutual agreement. If the parties cannot come to agreements in mediation, the judge will hear the case and usually assign multiple professionals to the family, at the parents cost, to make a determination on how custody should work.

What is "custody"?

"Custody" means:

  • who makes important decisions for the child (health care, education, and welfare of the child)
  • who the child lives with most of the time

This is often called a "custody schedule."

What if we don't agree on custody?

The judge may ask a "mediator" to assist you with making a parenting plan or to suggest one. A parenting plan includes a schedule dictating who the child lives with and when, who makes the important decisions for the child (usually both parents) and the custodial timeshare.

What is a "mediator"?

A mediator helps parents make parenting plans that are in the child's best interest. Often times, parents lose sight of the "child's best interest" because they are compromised emotionally as a result of the marital breakdown. A good mediator can guide the parents through the child custody process and refocus them on the big picture: Child's best interest.

Is what I say to the mediator private?

Not always. The mediator can tell the other parent what you say. Sometimes, a mediator will tell the judge what you say. The mediator may report child abuse. Ask your mediator to explain the privacy rules.

What is "supervised visitation"?

"Supervised visitation" means the child can visit the other parent if another adult is present. Ask your mediator if there is a "supervised visitation center" where you live. If there is no center in your area, talk with your mediator about other options.

Need more information?

Go to: www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp

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