What is mediation? Is it ordered for victims of abuse?
Mediation is a process where both parents work with a qualified neutral person (a mediator) who, without providing legal advice, assists the parents in reaching an agreement regarding custody and or/ visitation. A mediator may identify issues and options, assist the parties or their attorneys in exploring what they want/need from a custody order, and, upon request, the mediator can write down terms that the parties agree upon.1
If a judge orders mediation, s/he will choose the mediator. However, the parties can file a request to change the court-designated mediator to another mediator who has the proper qualifications by filing with the court a “Request to Substitute Mediator” within 15 days after service of the order of referral to mediation.2 The judge can order the parents to attend a maximum of four hours in one or two mediation sessions. Upon the recommendation of the mediator, the court may order up to four additional hours if the judge believes there is good cause to do so. If the parties agree, they can extend the mediation beyond these hours.3
If you can show the court that you or your child has been abused or there is coercive control in your relationship, and that mediation would be inappropriate because of this, the court may not order mediation.4
1 MD Rule §§ 9-205; 17-102(g)
2 MD Rule § 9-205(d)
3 MD Rule § 9-205(h)
4 MD Rule § 9-205(b)(2)