What is mediation?
Mediation is when a neutral third party sits down with the parties and tries to help them come to an agreement. If the parents cannot agree, the judge will hold a full hearing and decide the case. The mediator could recommend to the judge that the hearing should be held within 30 days.1
As part of a divorce, child custody, support, or visitation proceeding, the judge may require the parties to go to mediation and to pay for it themselves.2 Although mediation can sometimes be helpful, it can be very hard to face the other parent and get a fair deal if that person has abused you or your child. Be sure to tell the judge if the other parent has been abusive. The judge may not require mediation if the other parent has physically or sexually abused you or your child.2
The mediation proceedings will be done in private, but the mediator cannot keep you from bringing your lawyer.3 The mediator will try to help you and the other parent come to a voluntary agreement. If you come to an agreement, then the mediator will write it up and you and the other parent can sign it. Be sure to review it or have your lawyer look at it before you sign it to make sure it really is what you agreed to. The agreement isn’t legally binding until the judge approves it.4
1 N.D.R.CT Rule 8.8(a)(1)(A); N.D.C.C. § 14-09.1-08
2 N.D.C.C. § 14-09.1-02
3 N.D.C.C. § 14-09.1-05
4 N.D.C.C. § 14-09.1-07