The mediation program serves the Court, not only in the ordered dispute resolution evaluation sessions and agreed upon mediations, but also in offering pre-court resolution opportunities to disputing parties.
The mediators meet with the parties involved before their court date to see if an agreement can be reached. Often the parties do reach an agreement. This agreement is then written for presentation to the court by the parties. It is especially helpful to reduce docket pressures on domestic hearing days, decrease the conflict in two home families, increase the parent's involvement in the child's life, and help the parents learn to resolve and work through their conflicts while minimizing some of the negatives of the mom's house / dad 's house syndrome, for example.
Mediation can be referred through intake with the filing of a petition. The Juvenile Court Service Unit sends petitions and the referral for mediation to the Clerk's Office. The Clerk's Office processes the paperwork, and sets a court date. The parties mediate at the JCSU. If there is an agreement during mediation, the agreements are prepared and sent to the Clerk's Office for review and entry by the judge. Upon entry of an order, the parties will not need to attend their scheduled court date.
If no agreement is reached during mediation, parties return for their scheduled court date to adjudicate whatever issues may not have been resolved.
For more information, contact the Juvenile Court Service Unit at 703-777-0303.