3.475. Establishment of programs of mandatory mediation in county whose population is 700,000 or more; report to Legislature
1. In a county whose population is 700,000 or more, the district court shall establish by rule approved by the Supreme Court a program of mandatory mediation in cases that involve the custody or visitation of a child.
2. The program must:
(a) Require the impartial mediation of the issues of custody and visitation and authorize the impartial mediation of any other nonfinancial issue deemed appropriate by the court.
(b) Authorize the court to exclude a case from the program for good cause shown, including, but not limited to, a showing that:
(1) There is a history of child abuse or domestic violence by one of the parties;
(2) The parties are currently participating in private mediation; or
(3) One of the parties resides outside of the jurisdiction of the court.
(c) Provide standards for the training of the mediators assigned to cases, including, but not limited to:
(1) Minimum educational requirements, which must not be restricted to any particular professional or educational training;
(2) Minimum requirements for training in the procedural aspects of mediation and the interpersonal skills necessary to act as a mediator;
(3) A minimum period of apprenticeship for persons who have not previously acted as domestic mediators;
(4) Minimum requirements for continuing education; and
(5) Procedures to ensure that potential mediators understand the high standard of ethics and confidentiality related to their participation in the program.
(d) Prohibit the mediator from reporting to the court any information about the mediation other than whether the dispute was resolved.
(e) Establish a sliding schedule of fees for participation in the program based on the ability of a party to pay.
(f) Provide for the acceptance of gifts and grants offered in support of the program.
(g) Allow the court to refer the parties to a private mediator.
3. The costs of the program must be paid from the county general fund. All fees, gifts and grants collected pursuant to this section must be deposited in the county general fund.
4. This section does not prohibit a court from referring a financial or other issue to a special master or other person for assistance in resolving the dispute.