Mediation is a process where an impartial third person, known as a mediator is hired by the parties to help them move toward a mutually acceptable agreement about co-parenting issues (custody and visitation).
- Mediation is confidential and involves both parents meeting one or more times with a court approved mediator.
- Each party has an equal role in decision-making during the mediation process.
- As a neutral party, the mediator works with the parents to find areas of agreement for a parenting plan.
- Agreements reached are drafted by the mediator and provided to the parents and/or attorneys.
- Those agreements will need to be entered properly in the court file and finalized by an order by the judge.
Who are the mediators?
A mediator is an impartial person, outside of your dispute, that has been specially trained to assist in resolving custody disputes. The Idaho Supreme Court maintains a roster of mediators who meet minimum standards for training. This roster is available from Family Court Services, or online at www.isc.idaho.gov/problem-solving/child-custody-mediator/search.
Why do courts order mediation?
A working, mutual agreement between parents is usually preferable to a court imposed one. Courts require that all parties ordered to mediation, shall participate in good faith. Parents who work together, act responsibly, minimize costs in time and money, and reduce the stress on everyone involved, including, most importantly, the child.
Introduction to Mediation Services
Disagreements are usually settled based on power or rights or interests. Disputants who don’t have to deal with each other ever again, often settle disputes using power or rights. Disputants who deal with each other after settlement are more willing to settle disputes in a way that gives some satisfaction to all sides. Mediation is not based on power or rights. Agreements which are somewhat satisfactory to all involved are important for people who will have dealings with each other after settlement.
POWER — The person with the most power or money gets to decide.
RIGHTS — Someone, perhaps a judge, decides based on who has the rights or who is right.
INTERESTS — Agreements based on each person’s wants instead of bargaining over positions.
- help you recognize how what you want is important to you
- level the playing field by managing the process
- let you talk without being interrupted
- clarify concerns to avoid misunderstandings
- help you get a fresh look at options
- provide realistic understanding of what happens when mediation doesn’t work
- keep confidential what is discussed in mediation
- draft up any agreements you make
- report to the court whether or not agreement is reached
- make decisions for you
- give legal advice
- fix personalities or relationships
- take either side
- pressure you to agree to something you don’t really want
- testify in court
To make the most of the mediation process:
- bring up and discuss your issues and concerns
- focus on what your children need to thrive (in custody matters)
- brainstorm options which meet the other party’s needs also
- consider many possibilities–be creative–no threats or ultimatums
- show respect to the other party–no blaming, no name-calling, no put-downs
- focus on the future instead of getting stuck on what went wrong in the past
- be honorable–say what you mean and mean what you say
You are strongly encouraged to have your attorney advise you throughout the mediation process and review any agreement reached in mediation. Depending on the number of issues, agreement can generally be reached in 5 – 10 hours. The fewer the issues, the faster the process.