Divorce Court Mediation

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Scenario of Divorce Court Mediation

Some states have mandatory mediation programs as per which court-based mediators are provided for the case or there are rosters of court-approved private mediators and these fulfill the formal qualification and certification requirements of the Court like

  • Eligibility
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Supervision
  • Ongoing training
  • Continuing education in certain fields

In some states, mediators are offered by the Court free of charge while in others the clients must pay the necessary charges.

As per the laws of certain states, the Court-based mediation is restricted to issues related only to children and parenting like visitation, custody etc. On the other hand, private mediators are free to tackle a wide range of issues, except when the Court has referred a case to them.

Court based mediation is more shortened as compared with private mediation and is less flexible. In recent times, it has been more accountable to the public relative to private mediation.

It is expected that Court based mediators ought to understand and defend the principles, ethics and foundations of law that are mentioned in the Court's Code of Ethics, Rules of Court and statutes. These mediators have to be particularly familiar with local legal conventions and legal practices. The reason of such expectations is that they are representatives of the legal system. For example, in the state of California, the court mediators must fulfill the following conditions-

  • Knowledge of community resources, family law procedures and the court system
  • 2 years of prior mediation experience
  • a Master's Degree in Behavioral Science

It has been recorded that a majority of Court mediators are licensed mental health professionals who are backed by a Court experience of more than 5 years. 44 percent of the Court mediators have an experience of more than 10 years. A large percentage of Court mediators who are child custody mediators also perform other responsibilities like

  • Special procedural responsibilities in cases involving domestic violence
  • Partial and full custody evaluations
  • Guardianship mediation

Why Divorce Court Mediation is better than Private Mediation?

In a mandatory mediation program, a Court based mediator has much more expertise when compared with a private mediator. The reason is that private mediators are not generally supervised as court based mediators are. Private mediators are scarcely subjected to disciplinary action or formal performance reviews. The only problems private mediators face is that some clients try to file complaints regarding their licensing boards or sue them. It is a fact that a private mediator does not have an inbuilt economic incentive to offer excellent services. Due to this fact, the mediator may prolong a case for 6 to 8 months to gain money. Couples also accept the say of the mediator thinking that long-term negotiations are expected as per the state mandate. These couples are not aware of the terms of the local or state mandate. In the current scenario, there are national professional organizations that deal with these issues. However, their focus is not on the private mediator but on the Court based mediator.

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