What is Mediation?
Mediation is a problem solving process in which a neutral professional (the mediator) facilitates communication between participants regarding custody or shared parenting, a parenting time schedule, visitation, financial support and other issues concerning the child. The mediator helps the participants make agreements and develop a plan that is in the best interest of the child.
Who May Request Access/Visitation Mediation?
Parents, grandparents, and persons who have had a parent-like relationship with a child, may request Access/Visitation mediation. Parties in an ongoing Court case may also be referred to mediation by a Judge or Magistrate. Individuals may use the Access/Visitation Mediation Program if at least one of the mediation participants currently lives in Franklin County, Ohio or if the mediation is about a child who is the subject of a paternity, child support, custody, or parenting time order from this Court.
An individual begins the mediation process by submitting a completed Request for Access/Visitation Mediation form. Judges and Magistrates refer a case to mediation by a Mediation Order. Mediation Services then schedules a mediation session and notifies all the participants, in person or by mail, of the date and time of the mediation session. Mediation sessions are held in the Mediation Services Offices, 373 S. High Street, 3rd floor, Columbus, Ohio.
Before the mediation session begins, each participant is asked to complete an intake form. A Mediation Services staff member then meets with each participant individually to review the intake form and discuss any questions or concerns the participant may have about the mediation process.
At the beginning of the mediation session, the mediator describes the mediation process and then asks each participant to present his or her view of the issues. The mediator helps the participants discuss the needs of the child regarding parenting time or visitation and the ways in which those needs can be met. The mediator guides the communication process so that each participant has a chance to be heard. Conflicts are discussed one at a time, and various solutions are explored. The mediator may help participants develop options to resolve the issues, but the final agreement is made by the parties.
What are the Benefits of Mediation?
Mediation is a process that gives the participants the opportunity to resolve issues for the child and themselves rather than have a judge or magistrate make the decision for them. The mediator does not make any decisions for the participants. Instead, the mediaor helps the participants come to an agreement that works for them.
Who Must Participate?
Mediation is a joint, cooperative problem solving process, and it is necessary for all parties in the case to participate. The parties work together, with the help of the mediator, to develop a mutually agreed upon plan.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Mediators help the participants reach their own agreements and cannot give legal advice. Attorneys rarely attend Access/Visitation mediation sessions. If a participant wants an attorney to attend the mediation session, the participant should contact the Mediation Services Office prior to the mediation session. Many participants find it useful to consult with an attorney, before or after the mediation session, to discuss their rights and responsibilities concerning the child. Attorneys help their clients understand the law and make informed decisions. When the participants reach agreement in mediation, they may want to incorporate the final agreement into an Agreed Judgment Entry. Attorneys can assist with this process.
How Long Will Mediation Take?
A mediation session may take 2 to 2½ hours depending on the number and complexity of the issues that are being mediated. The participants may meet for only one session or be asked to return for additional sessions.
What Does It Cost?
There is currently no charge to participants for Access/Visitation mediation.
Agreements Reached in Mediation
Any agreement reached in mediation must be voluntary on the part of each participant. No agreement will be reached unless each participant is satisfied with all the statements contained in the agreement.
What Happens if No Agreement is Reached?
A mediation session may be terminated by any of the participants or by the mediator. If no agreement is reached, a participant may file a formal Court action asking a Judge or Magistrate to make a decision.
What about Confidentiality?
The only information the mediator shares with the Court is the outcome of the mediation. The mediator is not permitted to share other information with the Court or give the Court a copy of the Agreement reached in mediation without the consent of all the participants. The only exception is that a mediator may be required to report new allegations of abuse or neglect of a child, threats of bodily harm and information about certain crimes.
Usually the mediation session includes only parents or non-parents who are requesting custody or visitation. If you believe there are other people who should participate, contact the Mediation Services Office prior to the mediation session. Individuals who accompany participants to the session, and who do not participate in the actual mediation session, may wait in the Mediation Services reception area.
Childcare is NOT available. Please do not bring children to the mediation session
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