Recently I attended Merced County Superior Court's Family Mediation.
So as not to waste anyone's valuable time, I came prepared with a request for orders, signed documentation from a California state licensed school and daycare providers and a parenting plan. I anticipated the mediator to offer guidance or tools that would demonstrate how to move forward in a respectful and neutral environment. That did not happen.
Instead, the mediator launched into a barrage of negativity on all the things that mediation is not for. The mediator threw files, said in a short tone to speak only when spoken to, while turning his back and asking pertinent questions addressed to no one in particular, which left me hesitant to speak at all, and criticized our current visitation as "confusing."
The schedules of working parents, especially when long commutes are required to maintain employment, are complex. As parents, my ex and I are on good terms, but parenting is tricky, divorced or not. I asked my ex a question during mediation and was interrupted with the statement: "Do not address the other party, I will ask the questions." If it is the policy to not allow parties to address each other during mediation, I find this to be counterintuitive and counterproductive. Isn't that why we were there?
If you file papers in family court, you are required to attend mediation, a service you pay for in hefty court filing fees. Parents' situations should be viewed as unique and hopeful for resolution in the best interests of the children. The mediator's recommendation to the judge was out of touch as a working solution. My ex hired a lawyer to put an expensive stamp on the court papers stating that we agreed to our own plan in place of the recommendation. All in all, mediation was a demeaning experience and an ineffective expense for taxpaying citizens.