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How to handle mediation in a custody dispute

In Riverside county we are what is called a “reporting county” meaning whenever there is a custody dispute the parties are sent to mediation to discuss their concerns with a mediator. The mediator then prepares a report that contains observations they made during the meeting and statistical information as well as their recommendation for how the court should rule on custody and visitation.

The effect of this has been that Judges almost always go along with the mediators recommendation. Many parties are disgruntled with this process because it can seem as though “he who yells loudest, wins” meaning if one party tries to remain polite and lets the other party do the rambling during mediation, it can seem as though the mediator only hears one side of the story and makes their recommendation accordingly.

You may be asking, “is the answer to be the party that yells loudest?” the answer is absolutely not, because that can also backfire. During mediation you want to try an address your concerns in the most reasonable manner possible. If you have any supporting documentation (such as school records, police records etc) bring them with you for the mediator. However if it still does not go your way the only way to handle an unfavorable mediators recommendation immediately  is to have a skilled oral advocate that is able to change the judges mind about following the recommendation. If your attorney can argue effectively to simply “tweak” the report to allow another mid-week visitation here, more telephone contact there, it can really make the difference in the long run as far as your custodial time with your child.

Other ways to try and combat an unfavorable mediation recommendation is to request minors counsel (an attorney for the child/ren only) or set the matter for a trial. If you would like to learn more about these procedures or would like to speak with a highly skilled oral advocate about your particular situation call (951) 463-5594.

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