Notice To Mediator
Procedures and Expectations for Mediator-Participants
- A couple will be assigned to you for mediation of custody upon filing an original action or a modification of an existing Custody Order. You will get the forms and the parties will get an Order to contact you within three days.
- You must schedule the mediation session when the parties contact you. If neither party contacts you or only one party contacts you, no mediation is to be scheduled. You must still complete the Mediation Report form indicating why the session was not held and return the form to the Family Court Administrator within five days of the scheduled Mediation. NOTE: If you are notified before or during the mediation session by a party that he, she or the child has been the victim of abuse by the other party within the previous twenty four months and you decide that the case is not appropriate for mediation, you should not hold the mediation session and explain why in the Mediator’s Report.
- The current cost for the court mediation program is $90.00 per party for a two hour session.The fee could be higher if grandparents are involved ($90.00 per each person). The cost is shared equally between the parties unless they agree otherwise. The fee is due at or before the time of the session. Reminder: You will be assigned at least one pro bono mediation orientation per year.
- The Mediator Report Form addresses all the areas that the Court Rules require you to discuss during the Mediation Orientation, including:
- what mediation is and the advantages
- hourly rate for private mediation after the first two hours
- no legal advice will be given by the mediator
- parties are encouraged to consult with counsel prior to signing any agreement
- You must cover these basics in the Mediation Orientation Session which takes place within the first 30 minutes of the two hour block of time. The parties will review the Mediator Report form and may sign it, but they are not required to sign it. The signature is merely an indication that they received a copy of the Mediation Report form, and that they read and understood its contents. Supply each party with a copy of the form. If either party refuses to sign, indicate the refusal on the form. Mediation can continue after this process if both parties agree to mediate. Both parties should be encouraged to use the remaining time to mediate their dispute as they have already paid for the first two hours.
- If the parties choose to continue mediation with you after the first two hour session, then at your next session, you will begin to charge your hourly rate. That rate must have been previously discussed with the parties at the Mediation Orientation Session and must be disclosed on the Mediator Report Form. You must have the parties sign your Mediation Agreement which sets forth your requirements and hourly rate in writing before starting the private mediation session. The Court does not need a copy of that Mediation Agreement.
- DO NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE. Mediators are not permitted to give legal advice. You should have previously explained this to the parties at the Mediation Orientation session. Mediation is a time for the parties to discuss and resolve their issues. Remind them that they will be permitted to consult with their attorney concerning any legal issues, but that the mediator may not give legal advice.
- If the parties reach an agreement, then assist them with completing the Custody Order Form which may become the Custody Order. A form Custody Order is in the Packet. You must explain at this point there are two options.
- The parties can have the agreement reviewed/drafted by their attorneys, in which case they may sign it later, or
- The parties waive counsel review and sign it at the mediation. Their choice will be indicated on the Mediator Report Form. Return any signed Custody Order with the Mediator Report and supply copies to the parties.
- If parties choose to continue in Mediation after the first session, they must notify the Family Court and request a continuance of their scheduled conciliation at least five business days prior to the conciliation. If there is no request for continuance within five business days, then Conciliation will be held as scheduled. If the parties sign a Custody Order, this Order must be submitted to the Court five business days prior to Conciliation. Otherwise, the parties must attend the Conciliation and bring the signed Order with them.