How Mediation Works
California law requires that parents who are unable to agree on a child-sharing plan must proceed to mandatory
mediation. With the assistance of trained, professional mediators, parents will be given every opportunity to
decide for themselves what will be in the best interests of their children. Mediation is generally more successful
if parents understand the process and come prepared. Family Court Services encourages parents to seek guidance
and support from their attorneys, therapists, family members and friends in developing a child-sharing proposal
that meets the needs of both parents and children.
Family Support Issues
Since child custody and visitation are typically linked to child support, these financial issues may be addressed
in mediation. The Family Law Facilitator may participate in mediation to assist parents in resolving such financial
issues as child support, spousal support, medical and dental expenses, health insurance, and establishment of
parentage. Please note that the Family Law Facilitator does not give legal advice or represent parents in court
Initial mediation meeting
- Family Court Services will contact parents by letter to set an initial mediation;
- The goal of the initial mediation session will be to develop a co-parenting agreement.
- If agreement is reached in mediation the mediator will draft the agreement and both parents will sign
it. Then, the judicial officer assigned to the case will sign the agreement, at which time it becomes
a court order.
- If agreement is not reached in mediation, the mediator will make a recommendation to the Court for
a co-parenting agreement. Parents will attend an Order to Show Cause (OSC) hearing, at which time
the mediator's recommendation will be considered by the judicial officer and parents will have an
opportunity to state their objections to the recommendation.
Order to Show Cause Hearing
- The judicial officer presiding over the case will issue a tentative ruling the day before the hearing based on
the information presented by both parents and the mediator's recommendations. Information on how to obtain
tentative rulings is available by clicking
- If the parents agree with the judicial officer's tentative ruling, they do not need to
appear at the Order to Show Cause hearing and the tentative ruling will become a permanent order of
- If a parent disagrees with the judicial officer's tentative ruling, that parent must
notify the other parent and the Court that they will appear at the hearing the next day.
- At the hearing, the judicial officer will hear what both parents have to say about the mediator's
- The judicial officer may set a settlement conference or custody trial to address the areas of disagreement.
The judicial officer may appoint a panel to assist the Court and the parties at settlement conferences. The
panel may include attorneys and/or mental health professionals.
- Experience requirements for attorney panelists may be obtained by reviewing California Rule of Court 10.781 and by clicking here.
- Experience requirements for mental health professional panelists may be obtained by clicking here.
Helpful Information to bring to Mediation
Parents are encouraged to bring the items listed below to mediation appointments.
- Yearly calendar, which identifies all holidays.
- School calendar, which identifies all school holidays.
- Parents' work schedules.
- The amount of vacation time each parent has on a yearly basis.
- List of children's extracurricular activities, including how each parent would like to be involved in
these activities and who will transport children.
- A copy of the Parenting Plan Worksheet, with as much
information completed as possible.