Mediation is an option for divorcing couples to consider throughout California. The process takes place out of court and allows both spouses to negotiate all of their divorce arrangements and settlements. Even if a couple chooses not to mediate their divorce, they may be required to go through custody mediation.

The California Family Code mandates that all divorcing spouses with children must go through mediation to determine custody if they cannot come to an agreement.

Required custody mediation helps manage emotions

Divorce and custody are two of the most emotional events that a family can experience. Naturally, parents do not want to lose time with their children. So, divorcing parents often become defensive and anxious when facing custody matters. And when emotions are high, it can be challenging to agree on anything.

A divorce can also be a confusing time of turmoil for children. The goal of custody mediation is to reduce the stress from contested custody issues on the entire family.

Families can create a plan that works for them

Family courts always strive to meet a child’s best interests in custody matters. And in California, many courts believe that it is in a child’s best interests to maintain a relationship with both of their parents after a divorce.

That belief is why family courts tend to favor joint custody arrangements if possible. It is also why the state requires mediation for contested custody.

In mandatory mediation, the parents who already know their child’s needs can work together to:

  • Create a parenting plan and agreement that fits their family’s needs
  • Organize parenting time fairly between them
  • Craft customized strategies for parenting after the divorce is finalized

The mediator assists parents throughout the process and always keeps the focus on the child’s interests. If parents still cannot agree, the mediator can provide a recommendation on custody that the court may adopt.

Could 2020 be the end of mandatory mediation?

It is true that right now, divorcing parents must undergo mediation to decide a child custody dispute. However, that might not always be the case.

The section of the California Family Code that requires mediation for custody includes a repeal date of January 2020 in the language. There is no way to be sure whether mandatory mediation will be repealed in the future, but even if it is, voluntary mediation would still be an option for California families.