Bitter custody disputes can leave children with emotional scars that last a lifetime, which is why family law judges encourage divorcing parents to resolve these issues amicably whenever possible. Divorcing parents in California must attempt to settle custody disputes and negotiate parenting plans through mediation before they go to court, and superior courts provide mediators at no charge to help them.
During family law mediation sessions, court-appointed mediators work with parents to identify unresolved issues and find common ground. They also provide advice about parenting issues. The amount of time mediators spend with parents will be determined by the resources of the court, but sessions generally last for between one and three hours. Parents who need more time can hire a private mediator. While mediators do not make child custody decisions, they may submit recommendations to judges who do. They are also required to notify the authorities when they have reason to believe that children are being abused.
Child custody mediation in Los Angeles County
Parents in Los Angeles County schedule mediation sessions by submitting a form to the superior court. The form is available in English and Spanish, and it can be downloaded from the superior court’s website. If they wish to reach an agreement without the help of a mediator, parents can use the court’s Online Family Resolution Program. If a parenting plan is agreed upon, mediation sessions are not required.
Mediation saves time and money
Experienced attorneys may urge parents to do all they can to resolve child custody disputes during collaborative divorce sessions or through family law mediation. Litigation is expensive and time-consuming, and the proceedings take place in public. Attorneys could work with parents and mediators to settle these issues quickly and amicably, and they may also provide advice about the legal issues involved.