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What the Mediation Divorce Process is Like in California for Parents


California encourages couples to engage in mediation to reach an agreement on divorce terms. If you have children, mediation is mandatory before you can take your child custody or visitation disputes to court.

How can you pursue your divorce through mediation? What should you expect out of the process? Understanding the basics of mediation in California can help you feel more confident in the process and its effectiveness to reach an equitable settlement.

When is mediation mandatory in California?

California enacted a law that mandated mediation in certain divorce cases, such as those involving child custody and visitation. The law’s purpose is to reduce parental disputes and encourage cooperation on child-focused solutions. The law also promotes amicable parental contact that can be crucial to a child’s healthy upbringing.

Be prepared for this phase of your divorce. Once the court orders mediation, the Fresno and San Diego court website offers you the choice of taking an online orientation course or a public orientation presentation. This rule emphasizes early intervention in matters related to children.

Beginning the mediation process

You may voluntarily agree to mediate your divorce because of the many benefits the process offers, including saving money, finalizing the divorce sooner, retaining greater control over the decisions, and maintaining a cordial relationship with your former spouse. In this case, you might avoid court altogether. You might otherwise have received an order to attend mediation. In either case, mediation works the same way.

What is Tier 1 and Tier 2 mediation in Fresno & San Diego Counties?

Most people only attend Tier 1 mediation. At this level, parents attempt to reach an agreement on contested child visitation and custody issues. If you are able to reach an agreement, the mediator will draft a parenting plan to submit to the court. Tier 1 is confidential and only includes the mediator, the parents, and your attorneys. Your children are not involved in this process.

The judge sometimes wants more information before ruling on child custody and visitation matters. Tier 2 is the process for obtaining this vital information. The judge issues an order directing Family Court Services to involve other sources of information and draft a report of its findings. Family Court Services may interview the parents, school staff, therapists, and other people with knowledge about your child’s life. Your child might also be ordered to participate in a Tier 2 mediation process. You receive a copy of the Tier 2 report before attending your next hearing.

Learn more about the mediation process in California

Contact Fresno and San Diego divorce lawyer Rebecca Medina to learn about the mediation process. She is a trained mediator and attorney who can assist you in resolving your divorce using this effective process.

Rebecca MedinaAbout the Author: Rebecca Medina

Rebecca Medina is an experienced Family Law attorney, mediator and Collaborative Divorce Lawyer serving the Fresno and San Diego areas. She handles cases ranging from complex divorce matters to child custody, spousal support, prenuptial/postnuptial agreements, QDROs and uncontested divorce cases. She was rated “Clients’ Choice” by Avvo.

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