Q: What happens if we can’t agree on everything in mediation?
- A: After mediation, the next steps will differ from court to court. In some courts, the next step would be a meeting with your attorney (if you have one); in others you would proceed to a hearing before a judge. In some courts, the mediator is asked to make a recommendation to the court about what is best for the children. The judge considers this recommendation and may or may not follow it. Ask your mediator how it works in your court. Please remember that no matter how sensitive or understanding a judge or commissioner may be, that person does not know your children the way you do. Therefore, coming to your own agreement instead of going to court can often be best for everyone.
Q: If I have a lawyer, will my lawyer have a chance to look at my agreement before I go to court?
- A: Yes. All lawyers should review your agreement before you go before the judge.
Q: Can children or relatives be involved in a mediation?
- A: Whether children or relatives can be involved in mediation depends on the situation. If you think there is a reason for your children or a person close to you to be in mediation, tell your mediator.
Q: What are the mediator’s qualifications?
- A: Before someone can be considered as a court mediator, he or she is required by California law to have (1) a master’s degree in counseling, social work, or a related field; and (2) a minimum of two years’ work experience in the mental health arena before coming to the court. Additional education may be substituted or some experience and additional experience may be substituted for some education. Most mediators, however, have many more years of experience and are also licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, or psychologists. Court mediators also receive between 16 and 26 hours of continuing education each year.
Q: How long will the mediation take?
- A: For many people, one or two sessions are enough.