What is mediation? What is a parent coordination?
In Vermont, mediation is not mandatory. Parents might be referred to mediation by the family court after you file for PR&R or parents sometimes choose mediation before filing in court. Mediation means that a neutral third party (a mediator) tries to help the arguing parties agree on a solution without going to a judge. If you try mediation and you don’t come to an agreement, you can always go to court and see a judge, because mediation is not binding. Mediation is also called conciliation, case evaluation and facilitated negotiation. When there is current or past abuse between the parties, mediation may not be a good solution since you cannot have an open exchange of ideas and make compromises with someone who intimidates you.
The family court judge might also refer you to parent coordination in which a parent coordinator meets with the parties separately and might meet with the children, teachers, counselors and others who know the children to help come up with an agreement about PR&R. If the parents agree to a plan, it would be referred to the judge to be signed and turned into an official order.
Both mediation and parent coordination cost money but the fee is adjusted according to the parties’ income. The Vermont Judiciary website has more information on mediation, parent coordination and the specific costs.