Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Family mediation
Photos by Adam Stewart
Flowers on the northwest cliff in the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens - Photo courtesy of Adam Stewart

FAMILY MEDIATION OFFICE INFORMATION


Location and Mailing Address
Family Court Services
Superior Court of California, County of Mendocino
100 North State Street, Room 212
Ukiah, CA   95482
Telephone number:
(707)463-4484, option 4 then option 4

 

WHAT IS FAMILY MEDIATION?

Mediation is required by law in all custody and visitation disputes.  Family Court mediation is an opportunity for parents to resolve custody and visitation issues with the help of a trained mediator.  Family mediation does not include financial or property issues.  When mediation leads to an agreed upon Parenting Plan, that plan becomes an order of the Court and is enforceable as such.  When parents are unable to resolve their custody and visitation disputes through mediation, a hearing is set and the matter is decided by a judge. In Mendocino County, Family Court mediation is confidential.  In those cases that have not been able to agree upon a Parenting Plan in mediation, mediators do not make recommendations or write reports about the family to the Family Court.

 

WHO PARTICIPATES IN FAMILY MEDIATION?

Only the parents are present at and participate in the mediation process. Grandparents, new spouses, children, or any other interested parties do not participate in the mediation process. Attorneys may have contact with the mediators but they are not present at and do not participate in the mediation process.

 

HOW IS FAMILY MEDIATION CONDUCTED?

Mediation begins with an orientation presentation by the mediator. At every mediation session, parties will meet individually with the mediator first.  Parents then meet together in mediation, except in some domestic violence cases.

 

HOW IS FAMILY MEDIATION CONDUTED IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES?

When domestic violence is an issue in a family law case, parties have the legal right to meet separately with the mediator throughout the mediation.  This is called 'shuttle mediation'.  The mediator shuttles between the parents for the purpose of developing a Parenting Plan.

When there are safety concerns due to domestic violence, parents may contact the mediation office prior to mediation to alert the mediator to their concerns.  Arrangements can be made for separate waiting areas so that parents do not have any contact with one another in the Courthouse outside of their court appearance.

The parent who is protected by a restraining order has the right to be accompanied to family mediation by a support person.

 

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR FAMILY MEDIATION SERVICES?

Child custody and visitation mediation is required in all cases that have current custody and visitation issues pending in Family Court.  Family Mediation is also required when domestic violence restraining orders are granted and parents have requested custody and visitation orders in their restraining order application.  Family Mediation referrals are made directly from Family Court in cases that have scheduled a court date with a mediation slot reserved or have asked for custody and visitation orders as part of a domestic violence restraining order.

 

HOW LONG DOES FAMILY MEDIATION TAKE?

Mediation is one session which generally lasts for 2-3 hours.  Parents need to plan for the possibility that on the morning they are referred to mediation from court the actual mediation session may not start until the afternoon.  Arrangements should be made accordingly, in advance, with employers, child care providers, and other individuals with whom the parents have commitments.  Occasionally, the court overbooks the Mediation calendar in order to abide by statutory requirements. This may result in parents not being able to attend mediation at all that day and be rescheduled to a later date for mediation. The court and mediator do their best to cause the least amount of inconvenience to the parents when this happens.

The Family Mediation calendar gets backlogged occasionaly.  Parents who may have time sensitive concerns, i.e., school changes, holidays, vacations, etc., are advised to file their Requests for Order at least four months in advance of the dates of concern.

 

WHEN AND WHERE DOES FAMILY MEDIATION TAKE PLACE?

In Ukiah, Family Mediation is in the Ukiah Courthouse Family Court Services department, Room 212.  Family Mediation is only available through court referral, Tuesday through Friday.

Family Mediation is available at the Ten Mile Court in Fort Bragg by referral one to two Fridays per month.

 

HOW MUCH DOES FAMILY MEDIATION COST?

There are no additional fees for Family Mediation.  The service is covered by the filing fees that are paid when parents file their initial papers regarding custody and visitation.

 

ARE THERE OTHER REQUIREMENTS FOR those WHO HAVE CUSTODY or VISITATION DISPUTES?

Yes.  A Mendocino County Superior Court Local Rule requires that all parents of minor children going through Family Court attend a parenting apart workshop.  The workshop is titled Family Transitions.  This workshop educates parents about parent communication, conflict resolution, the needs of children when their parents do not live together, as well as other topics related to parenting apart.  The workshop is offered through the Triple P, Positive Parenting Program.  A certificate of completion will be submitted to the court upon completion of the workshop.  The workshop is offered in Ukiah in English and Spanish, and in Fort Bragg and Willits in English.  The workshop is funded by the Mendocino County Health and Human Services department and First 5 Mendocino and thus free for parents involved in Family Court proceedings.  Contact Triple P at (707)462-1233 to register.  Information about on-line courses which satisfy the workshop requirement is available through the Family Mediation office.

    Parenting Apart Workshop Registration Form

 

SPANISH SPEAKING PARENTS IN FAMILY COURT

When parents need the assistance of an interpeter in Family Court and/or Family Mediation, they should submit the Request for Interpreter form number MMC-110 AND inform the court clerk when they submit their documents for filing.  Spanish language interpreters are available in Family Court and for family mediation on Tuesdays.

    MMC-110 - Request for Interpreter

 

MEDIATION BY TELEPHONE APPEARANCE

Parents may file a request to appear for mediation by telephone.

    Guidelines for Appearance by Telephone
    Family Mediation Intake Form

 

CLIENT COMPLAINTS

Family Court Services staff are committed to helping you make the best decisions regarding your children, family members, and adults in your care. We hope you are satisfied with the services you receive. In the event you are not, please complete the Client Complaint Form below and submit to the Family Court Services director.

    Family Court Services Client Complaint Form and Instruction Sheet
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