Each county differs on their procedures, but typically you will get from the family court an appointment to meet with a mediator at the family court. You will oftentimes be asked, or even required, to attend an orientation class before the mediation. The mediators in Yolo, Sacramento, Placer, and all other “recommending counties,” will listen to you and the other parties, and attempt to get you to come to an agreement on all or some issues.
For those issues you cannot agree on, the mediator will submit a report to the court, summarizing the issues and recommending what the mediator believes is an appropriate order. This report is critical to your case as it sets the stage for your hearing, where the judge will render an order. Thus, many litigants submit a declaration to the mediator before the meeting takes place to prepare the mediator for it.
Submitting Documents to the Mediator
You are not required to submit documents to the mediator before the mediation. In fact, most litigants don’t. However, it may be helpful in complicated cases where giving the mediator some background on the family would assist the mediator with understanding the issues at hand. There are rules about what documentation you can send to the mediator:
- No more than ten (10) pages of written documentation (including attachments) may be submitted;
- A third party must either hand deliver or mail the copies of the information to the mediator and the other parent 5 calendar days before the mediation appointment. Remember you should always add 5 days when you are sending something by mail.
- A FL-335 Proof of Service by Mail or FL-330 Proof of Personal Service form signed by a third party (age 18 or older) listing each document must be attached to the documents submitted, and then filed with the court.
Most courts require litigants to attend an orientation class before their mediation appointment. This is to prepare you for what mediation is like. You should attend with an open mind. It can be very helpful.
You should take mediation as seriously, and in some cases more seriously, than your hearing. The mediator will have the ear of the judge when recommending a parenting plan.