In Sacramento child custody cases, the parties are automatically referred to child custody mediation with Family Court Services to address the custody issues. At the parties’ request, mediation can be handled by a private mediator (a trained private marriage and family therapist) at the parties’ cost.
When the parties attend FCS mediation or private mediation, the Sacramento County mediator tries to help the parties reach agreements on the custody issues. The mediator is not interested in helping one parent “win” and the other parent “lose.” The mediator simply wants to discern which visitation arrangement would be in the children’s best interests. It is also important to remember that an overly hostile mediation session is unproductive for everyone and not in the children’s best interest. After mediation is complete, the mediator will either prepare a report with the parties’ agreement or a report with the mediator’s recommendations if the parties did not reach an agreement.
Once the Sacramento County mediator completes their report, it is sent to the parties and their attorneys (if any) and to the Sacramento County family law judge. The judge will meet with the parties in court to discuss the report and whether it protects the children’s best interests. This is each party’s opportunity to tell the judge why they do or do not like the report. It is important to realize that the Sacramento County judges respect the mediators and are likely to adopt or sign the child custody reports as a court order. Sometimes the judges are concerned about the report and will make minor changes.
If you are involved in a Sacramento child custody case and you want further information about the mediation process, please give us a call. We can help you understand the Sacramento child custody and mediation process in a free half-hour attorney consultation.