Should I do Sacramento Private Mediation in My Custody Case?

by | Feb 18, 2014 | Firm News |

In all Sacramento child custody cases, the parties are required to attend Sacramento custody mediation before a judge will hear the child custody case.  In many cases, the Sacramento custody mediation can be done free of charge through Sacramento Family Court Services (FCS) or it can be done through paid private custody mediation with certain approved private therapists with experience in family conflict.  FCS’ advantage is that the mediator is paid through the county and attending is more convenient and quick.  FCS’ disadvantage is that the parties have no control over mediator selection and the experience can be very impersonal with unsatisfactory results. 


The Sacramento FCS mediator will spend a total of 1 to 3 hours with the parents and possibly interview the children.  Based upon that single session, if the parties do not reach an agreement, the mediator will make long-term judgments about the result of the Sacramento child custody case and those judgments will carry tremendous weight with the Sacramento custody judge in court.  Sacramento FCS does not permit family law attorneys to attend mediation so the parties must prepare and interact with the Sacramento mediator on their own.  If a party presents themselves in a poor manner to the Sacramento custody mediator or was coerced into agreeing to a disagreeable plan, any unfavorable mediator recommendation will likely become the court order for at least the next six months.  This is because the Sacramento custody judges rely heavily upon the mediators’ input and only occasionally make significant changes to it.


A Sacramento private mediator spends more time with both parents and the children over several weeks or months to create a more informed and workable visitation plan for both parents.  The Sacramento private mediator seeks input from both parents and tries to diagnose the root of the conflict and guide the parties toward a peaceable settlement.  The Sacramento private mediators are generally more experienced and the parents are generally happier with the result.  The disadvantage of this option is that the cost can easily reach $3,000 or more depending upon the depth of the dispute and the time needed to resolve the dispute.  Given that both parties are likely already paying legal retainers to their divorce attorneys, this can be a difficult pill for the parties to swallow.  However, we find that private mediation is an underutilized resource for conflicted families and can ultimately help save costs in court if the parties reach an agreement in mediation.


If you are involved in a Sacramento child custody case, and you wish to know how to proceed concerning mediation, please do not hesitate to call us.  Our Sacramento family law attorneys are prepared to assist you in making the correct choice for your case.