What is mediation and how does it affect me?
Mediation is a when both parties meet with a neutral third party (called a mediator) for the purposes of reaching an agreement based on decision made by the parties, not by the mediator.1 For cases involving child custody, residency (which parent the child will live with), and parenting time (visitation), you can either ask for mediation or the judge may order it if both parents are unable to agree on how you will share child custody, residency, and parenting time and have not yet agreed on a parenting plan (see What is a parenting plan? for more information)
A judge may decide not to send you to mediation if there has been a history of child abuse or domestic violence, but it is still possible.
If a judge orders mediation for your child custody case, it will take place before your custody hearing in court. During the mediation, the mediator might decide to meet with the children. If the mediation is successful and you reach an agreement with the other party on child custody, residency and/or a parenting time schedule, your mediator will put the agreement in writing and give it to the judge for approval. If the judge approves the written agreement, s/he will include it in your final custody order.2
1 K.S.A. § 23-601
2 See K.S.A. § 23-603