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Legal Information: Alaska

Statutes: Alaska

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August 8, 2023

Sec. 25.20.080. Mediation of child custody matter

(a) Except as provided in (f) and (g) of this section, at any time within 30 days after a petition for child custody is filed under AS 25.20.060 the court may order the parties to submit to mediation. Each party has the right to challenge peremptorily one mediator appointed.

(b) Mediation shall be conducted informally as a conference, or by telephone, or series of conferences, as determined by the mediator. The parties to the action and a court-appointed representative of the minor children shall attend.

(c) If the mediator determines that mediation efforts are unsuccessful, the mediator shall terminate mediation and notify the court that mediation efforts have failed. The custody proceeding shall proceed in the usual manner.

(d) Upon submission of the parties to mediation under this section, a pending child custody proceeding shall be stayed for a period of 30 days or until the court is notified that mediation efforts have failed. All court orders made during the pending custody proceeding remain in effect during the period of mediation.

(e) Costs of mediation shall be paid as ordered by the court by one party, by both parties, or by the state if both parties are indigent.

(f) The court may not order or refer parties to mediation in a proceeding concerning custody or visitation of a child if a protective order issued or filed under AS 18.66.100 - 18.66.180 is in effect. The court may not order or refer parties to mediation if a party objects on the grounds that domestic violence has occurred between the parties unless the court finds that the conditions of (g)(1) - (3) of this section are met. If the court proposes or suggests mediation under this subsection,

(1) mediation may not occur unless the victim of the alleged domestic violence agrees to the mediation; and

(2) the court shall advise the parties that each party has the right to not agree to mediation and that the decision of each party will not bias other decisions of the court.

(g) A mediator who receives a referral or order from a court to conduct mediation under (a) of this section shall evaluate whether domestic violence has occurred between the parties. A mediator may not engage in mediation when either party has committed a crime involving domestic violence unless

(1) mediation is requested by the victim of the alleged domestic violence, or proposed by the court and agreed to by the victim;

(2) mediation is provided by a mediator who is trained in domestic violence in a manner that protects the safety of the victim and any household member, taking into account the results of an assessment of the potential danger posed by the perpetrator and the risk of harm to the victim; and

(3) the victim is permitted to have in attendance a person of the victim’s choice, including an attorney.