Custody and Parenting Time Mediation

Due to concerns about COVID-19 (coronavirus), all mediation appointments will occur through a video-conferencing platform (instead of in-person). If you have an appointment scheduled, please see your appointment email to click the link at the start of your appointment. 

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Parents meet with a professional, court-approved, domestic relations mediator to develop a mutually agreeable custody arrangement and a parenting time schedule. The mediator guides discussions without taking sides or making decisions. Mediation is voluntary, confidential, and impartial. 


Mediation helps parents plan for their children's futures in a supportive setting; increases trust and improves communication between parents; and helps parents to develop new skills to handle future disagreements.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: How do I schedule a mediation appointment?

A: The first step is for each parent to take the Focus on Children class. You can register for Focus on Children HERE. After you and the other parent attend the class, we will schedule a 90-minute mediation appointment at no charge. In the event you want to continue mediating beyond a 90-minute appointment, you are eligible for up to two additional 90-minute mediation appointments at no cost.

 

Q: What do I need to bring?

A: Mostly just you and your ideas, but you may bring whatever paperwork is helpful for you.  You might consider writing down ideas for schedules and topics you would like to discuss.  Appointments are up to ninety minutes in length so you might also consider bringing a beverage (like water or a soda) and a light snack.

 

Q: Will I have to see the other parent?

A: When you click the link from your appointment letter, you will automatically be placed in a separate virtual waiting room from the other parent on the video conferencing platform. Thereafter, parents will be on the same video conferencing call only if both parents and the mediator agree. If either parent says they would like to stay on separate lines, the mediator will respect that decision. We want parents to do their best work. For some people that might mean staying in separate rooms. 

  

Q: Can I bring another person to mediation?

A: Only parties to the case (the petitioner and respondent in the court documents) may attend mediation. Neither person is allowed to bring guests or children. Both parents need to be in a quiet, private place during the appointment. The only exception is that attorneys may be present for mediation. In our experience, this is a very rare occurrence. In the event you do want your attorney to be present, you must inform us in advance, so that we may inform the other parent.  

 

Q: What if I have concerns about my safety during mediation?

A: If you are worried about your safety during the mediation appointment, please call our office before your appointment so we can discuss your options.

 

Q: Is mediation mandatory?

A: As of February 1, 2020, mediation is mandatory. This means that you must attempt mediation prior to your trial date (either through our program or with a private mediator). If you have concerns or questions about attending mediation, please contact our office.

 

Q: What are the benefits of mediation?

Mediation is an opportunity for you and the other parent to discuss decision making (custody), parenting time (holiday, vacation, and routine parenting time), and parental guidelines. If you and the other parent agree on any of these areas, your agreements will be typed up and sent to you by your mediator. Mediation allows a space for parents to make decisions about their parenting plan outside of a court setting. In the event you can reach an agreement during mediation, you may save the time and expense of dealing with the parenting plan at trial.

 

Q: What if we don’t agree during mediation?

A: During mediation both parents are free to agree or disagree. It is possible that you may agree in some areas, but not others. The mediator will draft agreements reached, and if there are any areas of the plan you and the other parent do not agree on, the mediator will indicate those areas as unresolved. If no agreements are reached, you may want to check-in with your attorney or the Lane County Family Court Assistance Office (541-682-4302).

 

Q: We already agree. Do we need to do mediation?

A: The court requires that parents attempt mediation prior to their trial date. In the event you and the other parent have already produced a written parenting plan that you will submit to the court prior to your trial date, you may not need to attend mediation. If this is the case for you, please inform our office prior to your appointment. In all other cases, parents must attempt mediation, even if you believe you are already in agreement.

 

Q: How long are mediation appointments?

A: Our standard appointment is 90 minutes long. Mediation may conclude early either when a full agreement is reached or when the parents decide no more progress can be made. Please plan to attend each scheduled appointment for the full 90 minutes.  

 

Q: Is it required to attend all three appointments?

A: The number of appointments (up to three) varies based on the needs of the parents. At the end of each appointment the mediator and the parents will decide whether or not to schedule another appointment. Mediation will conclude either when a full agreement is reached or when the parents or mediator decide no more progress can be made.

 

Q: What if we need more time?

A: The majority of parents are able to either reach an agreement or get to a point where they know there will not be an agreement within the standard three appointments. However, for some parents, three appointments may not be enough. If that is the case, you may schedule additional appointments at a rate of $150 per 90 minutes. Parents should only pay for additional appointments if there is a strong likelihood that additional mediation will help them make progress toward an agreement.

 

Q: What happens if one of us doesn’t attend the appointment?

A:   Our office will notify the court that one of you failed to appear for mediation. As a reminder, it is important that you attend mediation in order to meet the court’s requirements. Failure to attend mediation prior to your trial date may result in a delay of trial.


Q: What happens if we miss the appointment or need to reschedule?

A: Be sure to note the days you are unavailable on your green form when you take the Focus on Children class. We will make every effort to accommodate your requests (within our operating hours) when scheduling your appointment. Once an appointment is scheduled, you are expected to attend that appointment. In the event of an emergency, please contact our office to discuss options moving forward.

 

Q: There is a restraining order or no contact order in place. Can we still do mediation?

A: You can still do mediation if there is a restraining order or other no contact order in place. As with all mediation appointments, either parent may elect to stay in separate rooms on the video-conference call. If you have concerns about your safety during mediation, please contact our office.

Q: Can I still do mediation if the other parent does not attend?

A: No. Mediation requires that both parents be present for the appointment (in-person or via phone).

 

Q: Will there be breaks during mediation?

A: Parents may request to take breaks during mediation, however any time spent taking a break still counts toward the 90 minute appointment length, so we would advise parents to keep breaks to a minimum if possible. Please also keep in mind that the Lane County Juvenile Justice Center is a tobacco free campus so it is not possible to smoke or use tobacco products during the mediation appointment.

 

Q: Will we talk about child support during mediation?

A: We are not able to talk about child support or other financial concerns during mediation at our program. We are only able to talk about parenting time, custody, parental rights and responsibilities, and parental guidelines.

 

Q: Who do I contact regarding special accommodations?

A: Please contact our office if you have need of special accommodations during your appointment.

 

Q: Is it possible for my attorney to review the mediation agreement before I sign it?

A: Yes. Agreements made in mediation are tentative until filed with the court and signed by a judge. Parents will not finalize agreements during the mediation appointment. Once you receive the draft of your parenting plan we encourage you to review it on your own or with an attorney prior to filing it with the court. If you do not have an attorney, you may want to review your parenting plan and other documents with the Lane County Family Court Assistance Office (541-682-4302).

 

Q: What will happen after mediation?

A: The mediator will draft any agreements you reach into a parenting plan. This might be a complete plan or a partial plan depending on the agreements reached. The mediator will send the draft parenting plan to you by email (and your attorney if applicable). It is your responsibility to file the final court documents (including your parenting plan) with the court. Our office does not file parenting plans with the court.  Appropriate forms are available from the Lane County Family Court Assistance Office (541-682-4302) and online at: http://courts.oregon.gov/Lane/FamilyandChildren/pages/FamForms.aspx

 

Q: How do I file my agreement with the court?

A: If you and the other parent have reached agreement on all domestic relations case matters, you may be able to file your documents at the court without attending a trial. It is your responsibility to ensure your final court documents are filed with the court. Contact your attorney or the Lane County Family Court Assistance Office (541-682-4302 and online at: http://courts.oregon.gov/Lane/FamilyandChildren/pages/FamForms.aspx) to learn more about how to file final court documents.

For more information, you may email us by clicking here.

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