Is Family Law Mediation Important?

Is Family Law Mediation Important?

If you are going through a child custody battle, or if you have children and are contemplating filing for divorce, it is important to know that the court will send you to mediation. Clients often ask, "is family law mediation important?" The short answer is YES!

With a few exceptions, the court orders the parties involved in a child custody battle to attend mediation with a neutral, court-appointed mediator.

At the mediation, the parties meet, without their attorney, with the mediator and discuss what they want and what they think is in the best interest of their children. It is important that the parties are cordial with the mediator and the other party. It is also imperative that each party discuss all issues with the mediator.

Following the mediation, the mediator submits a report with the court. In the report, the mediator makes his/her recommendation with regards to the best interest of the child. If reasonable, the court typically adopts the mediator's recommendation and makes it a court order. This order is only temporary until a judgment following trial, or a stipulated judgment by the parties. While the parties still have an opportunity to be heard at the hearing on child custody and visitation, it is oftentimes difficult to convince the judge to change the mediator's recommendation. The mediators can become a "de facto judge."

The reason the court generally adopts the mediator's recommendation is that the mediator is afforded the opportunity to spend significant time with the parties. The mediator can ask questions and get the perspective of both parties without any time limitations.

As you may or may be aware, the mediation also has an indirect effect on child support. Courts are required by statute to utilize guidelines when calculating child support. One important factor is the amount of time the parents spend with the minor child. So, whether you realize it or not, the mediator has a profound impact on your family law matter and you should be prepared before going to mediation.

If you are going through a child custody battle, or are thinking about filing for divorce, please contact our Rancho Cucamonga office for a free consultation. Our Rancho Cucamonga divorce attorney would like to spend some time discussing the specifics of your case.