Family Court Services' Mediation Program
What is Mediation?
According to Idaho Rules of Civil Procedures:
Mediation . . . is the process by which a neutral mediator appointed by the court or agreed to by the parties assist the parties in reaching a "mutually acceptable" agreement as to issues of child custody and visitation. The role of the mediator is to aid the parties in identifying the issues, reducing misunderstandings, clarifying priorities, exploring areas of compromise and finding points of agreement. An agreement reached by the parties is to be based on the decisions of the parties, and not the decisions of the mediator.
Examples of issues that may be address in mediation are as follows:
- residential, holiday, and vacation schedules
- education, health care, and child care
- special needs
- potential future moves (location change)
- safety issues
How Does Mediation Work?
With the help of a professional mediator, parties define specific concerns or potential problem areas, gather facts, explore options for resolution, and develop a plan which best meets the needs of the children and parents. Upon successful completion of mediation, the mediator will prepare a written agreement for each party to sign. If parties have attorneys, it is recommended such agreement is reviewed by attorneys before filing with the court. After review, the agreement is filed with the court for approval and therefore can be enforced as a Order of the Court. To determine if mediation might be appropriate for you, please see How Ready For Mediation Am I?
Is Mediation Confidential?
Mediation is confidential. Only you, the other party, and the mediator (and ultimately your attorney) will know what occurred in the mediation process. The court knows no details of the process of mediation itself, it only knows the outcome - either as an agreement or not.
How Long Does Mediation Take, How Much Does it Cost, and Who Pays For It?
Each case is different. Some cases take longer to settle issues than others. The average time for mediation is approximately six hours. Fees vary depending on the individual mediator and in Ada County range from sliding fee scales to hourly rates of $140 per hour. Generally, costs for mediation are divided and each party is responsible for half of the total fees. This division of costs may vary depending on specific issues relating to the case and the specific court order.
How Do We Pick a Mediator?
The Idaho Supreme Court produces a list of approved child custody mediators. This list includes all mediators who complied with the Idaho Supreme Courtís expectations for mediators. The mediators on this list come from a variety of backgrounds, educational training, and experience. Depending on the needs of those seeking mediation, parties may choose from mediators with expertise in counseling, law, education, or various other areas of interest. Each mediator listed establishes his/her own fees and works independently of Family Court Services.