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 on custody and placement. 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, the mediator will tell the parties what further deposits are necessary. The parties are responsible for the cost of any mediation after the first session. 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, may refer you to the Judge for contempt, and may make you pay for mediation.
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.
When mediation is not paid for by the county, the parties can ask for the appointment of a mediator that they pay for themselves. The current Fee Schedule sets out both hourly fees and deposit requirements.