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Family Mediation Program

Overview

Sign stating Mediation The Baker County Family Mediation Program provides mediation to parents who have a current legal action in Baker County concerning final custody and/or parenting time (visitation).  Mediation is commenced when a Response is filed by an objecting parent or by order of the Court.  In mediation, parents have an opportunity to discuss the needs of their child(ren) and evaluate options for a satisfactory parental agreement.  The Court will not issue a final decree for any contested custody and/or parenting time issue unless it has proceeded through mediation.  If an agreement is not reached, the case will be resolved through a court Trial or Hearing.  The Judge will then make the decision for the parties after a Trial or Hearing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

​Mediation works well for many families.  However, when problems such as violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or mental illness are part of your situation, you may want to notify the mediator in advance so appropriate measures may be taken.  If additional measures can’t correct the situation, the court may need to be used to make decisions for your family.

When you talk to a mediator regarding any safety issues, your answers are private.  They are just between you and your mediator.  They are not shared with the other parent.  The only exception is if your mediator has to report information about child abuse.  The mediator can give you information about places in your community where you can find help.
 
Some parents that have experienced domestic violence still want to participate in mediation.  If you decide you want to mediate, but are worried about your safety, you can ask your mediator about safer ways to participate.
 
You are never required to reach an agreement through mediation.

​Yes.  You can contact the mediator with concerns you have about the mediation.

​Mediation allows you to plan for your children’s future in a private, confidential setting.  Many parents report that mediation helps to increase trust, improve communication and develop new skills in handling disagreements.  Parents know their child(ren) best.  If you and the other parent can make decisions together about your child(ren), you will avoid the uncertainty and expense of having a judge decide for you.  You are more likely to be satisfied with your own parenting plan than with the one that is imposed on you by the court.  Your child(ren) will benefit greatly if they can see both parents working cooperatively to plan for their future.

​Mediation is a process that provides an opportunity for parents in conflict to reach a solution with the help of a neutral third party (the mediator).  Finding solutions is the focus of mediation.  A mediator does not take sides and does not place blame on one person or another.  A mediator helps you discuss concerns and if possible reach a voluntary agreement.  The mediator helps you think about your individual needs and interests, clarify your differences with the other parent, and find common ground.  In mediation:

  • You are the decision-maker; the mediator has no authority to make decisions.
  • The mediator guides the process and maintains a safe environment.
  • The mediator uses and helps you to use active listening skills.
  • The mediator does not give legal or other professional advice to you.  The mediator may help you think of options to consider, possibly with the help and advice of another professional.
  • We encourage you to have your mediated agreement reviewed by your attorney before you sign it, if you have retained one.
  • Agreements are reached only when you agree.

​You do not need to bring anything to the first session unless your mediator has sent you forms to fill out.  DO NOT BRING YOUR CHILD(REN), FAMILY MEMBERS, OR FRIENDS TO MEDIATION SESSIONS.

​The amount of time you spend in mediation will vary according to the issues that are in dispute.  Some mediations take only a couple of hours.  Others may last for several sessions.

​Mediation may not be appropriate in some cases.  Mediation will not work if one side is interested only in revenge or having someone say who is right and who is wrong.  Mediation may also not work when one parent is unable to negotiate because of substance abuse, psychological problems or if one of the parents is physically or emotionally abusive.

​What people say in mediation is confidential and can’t be disclosed outside of the mediation sessions.  A judge usually won’t allow either parent or the mediator to testify in court about statements made by participants in the mediation.  There are some limits to confidentiality, however.  For example, your mediator may have a duty to report child and elder abuse or threats of injury.

​The first eight hours of mediation are free of charge to both parents.  If the mediator spends more than eight hours on a case, the parents are responsible to pay the mediator for that extra time.  You should check with your assigned mediator to see what his or her hourly rate is.  Also, if a parent does not show up to a scheduled mediation without giving the mediator at least 24 business hours advance notice the Court may assess the cost of that mediation against the non-appearing parent.

​Notify the mediator prior to the first session if you don’t feel safe.  The mediator will meet with each of you separately, or make other arrangements for your safety.  If there is a restraining order in effect, please let the mediator know before the first mediation session.

​The mediator will help you put your agreement in writing and send it to you.  If you have retained an attorney, you are responsible to provide a copy of your agreement to your attorney.  You are encouraged to discuss the agreement with your attorney before it becomes final.  The agreement will be incorporated in the final judgment that the judge signs when your court case is finished.


This information is offered by the Baker County Circuit Court and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions or want advice, please contact an attorney.

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