“Why Do I Have to Go To Mediation For Custody And Visitation?”
California State Law requires a mediation prior to any request to the court to change or set custody or visitation orders. The reason for this is simple: in most cases a schedule set by the parents will be more beneficial to the children than something the court sets up. This is because the parents know their child’s needs and schedules and what will actually work for exchange times and locations. If at all possible, this is the preferred method for setting visitation and custody. In cases where this does not occur, the court will make orders, but all judges are aware that they cannot account for every circumstance of know for certain how the orders will affect the child.
Why do you have to go even when you don’t think you will come to an agreement? There are two reasons for this. First, many people who don’t think they will come to an agreement actually do work things out. The mediators are highly trained and skilled at working around roadblocks and coming up with solutions to time-share problems. Secondly, through the mediation process the judge is often alerted to problems that require either family court services investigation or the appointment of minor’s counsel. This allows the court to address those issues early and begin the investigation process at an early point in time.
For those parties who have a Domestic Violence Restraining Order or violence issues in the past, please remember that you can request separate rooms for mediation in most counties to protect you from intimidation and fear during the process.