Some California child custody and support matters are handled through an alternative dispute resolution procedure called mediation. This may allow people to reach agreements for child custody, parenting plans, visitation, child support and other issues.
In mediation, both parties meet with a neutral third party who is skilled in helping people to resolve their disputes. The mediator facilitates the discussion and tries to help people to reach agreements. If the mediation is successful, the accords that result will become court orders. Since people reach these agreements without going through potentially contentious litigation processes, they may be likelier to adhere to them and to be happier with the results.
Mediation may also help people to save money. Litigating child custody disputes can be an expensive and long process. People who receive requests to go to a mediator should respond in writing. If they agree to go, showing the court that they were willing to try to work things out can be beneficial if the mediation does not work. If they do not believe that mediation would work, they should list the reasons clearly in their written responses.
While mediation is not appropriate for everyone, it works well for many people. People who are interested in possibly mediating their child custody disputes may want to search for family law attorneys who practice as mediators. The mediator may be able to help the parents resolve their outstanding legal disputes so that they might reach a full settlement. If the people are unable to reach an agreement in mediation, they may then decide to proceed with the litigation process so that they can leave the decisions up to the judge.