Prior to the final judgment of divorce, the parties are referred to mediation if custody or placement is at issue. Mediation allows the parties to meet with a qualified mediator to see if they can come to an agreement. They will also be referred to a Cooperative Parenting Course designed to help them learn to keep their kids out of the middle of their conflict. If they are not automatically referred, either party may request a referral to mediation by contacting the Family Court Commissioner’s Office.
Green County pays for the first mediation session in a case. If further mediation is appropriate, each party is ordered to make a deposit of $100 to cover further mediation fees. Even though a fee is required for further mediation, it is often less expensive than fighting about the issues in court.
Some mediators hold their sessions in the Mediation Room of the Court Commissioner office at the Justice Center; others hold them at their office. If a mediator is appointed in your case, the Family Court staff will send you a notice with the time and place of the session. Under Court Rule, if a mediator is appointed you are required to cooperate in the mediation sessions. If you don’t go and try to work something out, the Commissioner will make you appear in court to explain yourself, and may refer you to the Judge for contempt.
After the final judgment of divorce, if either party files a motion or an order to show cause affecting custody or placement they may also request a referral to mediation. There may or may not be a cost to the parties depending on how long it has been since a prior mediation. The Family Court Commissioner may also order the parties to mediation if the Commissioner feels it is appropriate.
Mediation on Issues other than Child Custody and Placement
Many parties feel that they would be able to reach an agreement on issues other than custody and placement if they had the chance to get a mediator’s help with these issues. Upon request by either party, the Court Commissioner will provide the names of mediators who have shown a willingness to take these cases. The county does not pay for these mediation sessions, and the parties usually agree to split the cost. Attorneys may be involved with these types of mediation to help their clients make sound decisions.
While mediation on these other issues does involve a cost, it may be less expensive than a trial. Mediation may also lead to a more satisfying resolution for everyone.
Cooperative Parenting Classes – “Children in the Middle”
The Wisconsin Statutes allow the Family Court to establish an education program to help parents understand the effects of divorce on their children. In Green County, this program is provided through the Family Court.
Currently, the classes are held 5 times a year (on Saturday). The cost of the class is $75.00 per person, which includes all materials. A discount to $65.00 is available for early payment. If the Family Court Commissioner refers you to these classes, you will receive an order with the time and place of the class you are to attend. This order will also contain the deadline for the discounted rate.
These classes may conflict with your work or personal schedule, but unfortunately we don’t have the resources to fit them to everyone. While some of those who are ordered to go to these classes are angry or upset about it, the vast majority of those who have attended report that they were very worthwhile.
Our co-parenting class facilitator has prepared a brochure which explains what the classes cover and how they may help you. You may need the Adobe Acrobat® Reader to view this brochure. Adobe Acrobat® Reader is a free application. The brochure is in a tri-fold format, and may be easier to read if printed to paper and then folded first.
Parenting Skills Classes
We do not keep a list of parenting skill classes offered in Green County, but suggest that you contact Green County Human Services, your local school district, The Monroe Clinic, or UW-Extension for information on programs they may be aware of.