What is mediation?
Mediation is when a neutral third party sits down with the parents in a custody or visitation case and tries to help them come to an agreement without going through extensive court hearings. The parents are responsible for paying for mediation. If you cannot afford the fees, there are some lower-cost or sliding-scale services available.
In a divorce or child custody proceeding, an Oklahoma judge may require the parties to go to mediation.
If domestic violence is involved, the judge usually will not require mediation. Be sure to tell the judge if the other parent is violent or abusive and you don't want mediation. However, the judge can still require mediation in domestic violence cases if s/he finds these three conditions are satisfied:
- Your mediator has training in the effect of domestic violence or child abuse on its victims; AND
- The judge believes you can negotiate with the abuser without there being an imbalance of power as a result of the abuse. This means the judge will try to decide whether or not you can fairly get your voice and ideas heard by the abuser or if it is possible that s/he may intimidate, frighten, or harm you in some way that would prevent you from feeling you can speak up; AND
- The mediation process is set up to protect against this power imbalance that generally comes with domestic violence.*
So if your judge orders mediation and you are a victim of domestic violence, you may be able to argue that these conditions are not satisfied and that mediation will have harmful effects on you.
* 43 O.S. §107.3(B)