What is Family Mediation?
Family mediation is an alternative to the traditional adversarial process of litigation in the family courts. Mediation helps in resolving the disputes associated with separation and divorce, family business, eldercare, inheritance and parenting.
It is a cooperative process in which parties work together with a neutral mediator to reach agreements on such issues as parenting arrangements, financial support, property settlement, business arrangements and other family issues.
Once an agreement is reached, it may then be taken to each party's attorney for review and legal implementation.
What are the Advantages of Mediation?
- Promotes collaboration and resolves conflict between two parties.
- Empowers the parties to create and take responsibility for their own solutions instead of relying on attorneys or judges to make these decisions.
- Produces agreements that are acceptable to all parties and that all parties will work to support.
- Usually faster and less costly than litigation.
- Private and confidential process.
What are the qualifications for a family mediator in the State of Louisiana?
- Possess a college degree and complete a minimum of 40 hours of generalized mediation training and 20 hours of specialized training in the mediation of child custody disputes;
- Hold a license or certificate as an attorney, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, marriage and family counselor, or clergyman and complete a minimum of 16 hours of general mediation training and 20 hours of specialized training in the mediation of child custody disputes.
- Complete a minimum of 8 hours of co-mediation training under the direct supervision of a mediator who is qualified in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (3) of this subsection, and who has served a minimum of 50 hours as a dispute mediator.
- Mediators who, prior to 8/15/1997, satisfy the provisions of paragraph (1) of this Subsection and served a minimum of 50 hours as a child custody dispute mediator are not required to complete the 8 hours of co-mediation and are qualified to supervise co-mediation training.
- Have served as a Louisiana District, Appellate or Supreme Court Judge for at least 10 years, have completed at least 20 hours of specialized mediation training in child custody disputes and no longer serve as judge.
How does one locate a mediator?
Courts often maintain lists of qualified mediators in each parish. Qualified practicing family mediators are listed on our member list. Some mediators advertise in phone books or your attorney my be able to refer you to a mediator.
What is the cost of mediation?
The most standard fee for mediation is $125.00 per hour. Some mediators may charge more or less. If the court orders mediation, a fee will be set on a sliding scale based on the income of the parties.
I've been court ordered to attend mediation, what can I expect?
Procedures will vary depending on the Parish in which you live. The following procedures are typical of Calcasieu and Beauregard parishes:
- You probably have been assigned a mediator by the Court. Fees may be set by the hearing officer and you have a certain number of days to contact the mediator to schedule an appointment.
- After an initial appointment has been set, the mediator is required to send notice to The Court that you have made the appointment. The mediator may then send a second report to the court after the first mediation session saying only that the first appointment was held. NO OTHER INFORMATION is provided by the mediator to The Court until the mediation is completed.
- You and your child's other parent will be asked to complete routine paper work prior to or upon your first appointment and review some basic rules and guidelines before meeting with your mediator, so it is important to arrive about 15 -20 minutes early for the first session to complete the paperwork.
- When you meet with the mediator, he or she will explain the process, record keeping and probably ask you to sign an Agreement to Mediate, indicating that you are aware of the mediation rules and agree to comply with them. Mediation will terminate either by development of an agreement regarding the issues in dispute, partial agreement, no agreement, failure of one or both of the parties to comply with the appointments or a decision by the mediator that mediation is not appropriate.
- The mediator will then prepare a Memorandum of Understanding based on the agreements reached in the mediation sessions. A copy of this document will be sent to your attorney. If there is no written objection by you or your attorney within 30 calendar days, the Memorandum of Understanding will be sent The Court to be made into an order. The Memorandum of Understanding is not legally binding (even if signed by all parties) until it is reviewed by your attorney and signed by the judge as an order.
- Mediators typically try to meet both parties at the same time. It is important for the mediator to be neutral and have no prior relationship with either party. Mediators may be required by The Court to verify that they have not prior relationship with either party. However, if you have concerns, especially about domestic violence or fear of contact with your child's other parent, it is important to communicate this to your attorney or the mediator prior to your first session. At that point, your attorney or the mediator will discuss your concerns and make appropriate recommendations.