What is mediation and who pays for it?
Mediation is a process where both parents will meet to try to come to an agreement on how to divide up custody and visitation, without leaving the decision to the judge. A third party who is neutral, generally called a mediator, meets with the parents to help them reach an agreement.
Virginia law states that in all appropriate cases, the court should order that parents go through mediation before seeing a judge.1 However, if there is a history of family abuse, you can ask the court to skip the mediation process, and go straight to a hearing in front of a judge.2
The goals of mediation include coming up with a schedule of when the child will see each parent, and figuring out how any disagreements between the parents will be handled in the future.3 You do not have to agree to anything you are not comfortable with or do not want. If an agreement cannot be reached, a hearing will be scheduled in front of a judge.
You will not have to pay for mediation in any custody, support or visitation case. It is paid for by the state.2
1 Va. Code §§ 20-124.4; 20-124.2(A)
2 Va. Code § 20-124.4
3 Va. Code § 20-124.2(A)