In an earlier blog I discussed what to expect from court connected child custody mediation (Family Court Services – “FCS”). If you have not read that blog yet, go back and take a look since I give a background on child custody mediation generally. In today’s blog, I am going to focus on private child custody mediation.
Private custody mediation in San Diego works just like FCS mediation. The mediator will assist the parties in reaching an agreement. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, a report and recommendation will be prepared and released. After those similarities, the process and benefits of private mediation are very different. For example, some of the benefits of using a private child custody mediator for your case are:
Level of Experience and Education – Generally, private custody mediators hold a Ph.D. in psychology and are well versed in child custody matters. Other mediators are former FCS mediators and supervisors who have a wealth of experience assisting families in child custody related matters.
Time and Attention – Private custody mediators spend significantly more time with the parties, almost always meet with the children and will conduct several sessions over a period of weeks. This allows the private mediator to get to know you, the other parent and the children reasonably well. All families are different with different needs. Developing a relationship with a mediator who has the time to understand your unique needs can lead to better and more tailored results.
Review of Material – Most private custody mediators will review documents that you provide to them. Having the mediator review documents or pleadings gives the mediator a chance to really understand your position and the reasons behind it.
Third Party Contacts – Most private custody mediators will make collateral contacts to third parties, teachers, therapists, or other relevant parties.
Access – Many private custody mediators accept email or text message communication from parents. This allows quick and ready access to the mediator. This is especially helpful when small, but important, issues related to the children arise and the parties need assistance quickly. In addition, FCS mediation is usually restricted to one visit every 12 months, unless a court orders otherwise. There is no limit in the amount of time parents can visit a private custody mediator.
This increased level of service does come at a cost. Private child custody mediation can be expensive. Most mediators charge between $200 to $300 per hour. When you have a highly contested case, or if domestic violence, substance abuse or special needs children are involved, it may be worth the extra cost to use a private mediator.
It is important to note, the court cannot order parties to attend a private mediator. The parties must agree to attend private mediation. That means if one party wants private mediation and the other party does not, there is nothing the court can do to force the other side to attend mediation. That does not mean you are out of options, it just means you will need to discuss a strategy with an experienced family law attorney.
We understand that this is a sensitive situation that could greatly affect your family and your relationship with your children, and our team can provide you with the caring and outstanding legal counsel you need and deserve. If you anticipate a child custody battle as a result of your family law case, it is important to know that a lawyer can help you understand the process accurately.
Nancy J. Bickford, a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS), is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Please call 858-793-8884 to understand how she can help your child custody battle begin and end with keeping your kids where they belong: With you.