Preparing for custody mediation

In California custody disputes, the family court requires you the participate in a court mandated custody mediation before the judge hears your case.  Custody mediation is required by law. In this article, you will learn what you need to know know about custody mediation and the steps you need to take to prepare for custody mediation in California family court. We hope you find this information useful!

What is custody mediation?

Parties to a child custody or visitation dispute must participate in a court mandated mediation before going in front of the judge. See Family Code 3170-3173. The purpose is to encourage parents to resolve their child custody or visitation dispute through negotiation. Therefore, the law is encouraging you to negotiate instead of fighting in family courts.

Who will be the child custody mediator?

In a court mandated custody mediation there will be mediator whose job is to assist the parents in negotiating a child custody agreement. Much of the time the court has certified mediators. Sometimes the mediators are former lawyers or law students.  Remember, mediators are not judges. They cannot decide on anything. They are a neutral who are tasked with facilitating a discussion between parents if possible.

Can custody mediation help or hurt my case?

Generally, everything that takes place during a custody mediation is confidential. In some counties, if the parents cannot agree to custody the mediator can make a custody recommendation to the judge. Additionally, the law requires that parents participate in good faith. However, there is no requirement that you agree to any custody arrangement in mediation. Therefore, it is important to participate in good-faith and be prepared to negotiate to make a success out of your custody mediation.

Preparing for custody mediation

It is important to prepare for custody mediation. Here you will get some practical things you can do to prepare for custody mediation.

Know your case!

Is is important for you to know whether your custody case is weak or strong. You knowledge can help you determine how much leverage you have in mediation. Thus, know your case!

Create a custody or visitation proposal

In most cases even the none-custodial parent is entitled to reasonable visitation of his or her child. To prepare for custody mediation, get a calendar and mark on a calendar on which days each parent will have custody or visitation. You can mark “M” for mother or “F” for father. Feel free to include when custodial/visitation time starts and ends. You can even say at what time each parent is entitled too a phone call or face-time with the child.

Create alternative proposals

Creating alternative custody or visitation proposals will help you negotiate a fair custody agreement. So do not just create one. Have different options in case the other parent cannot accommodate one of the proposals.

Do not be late

You will have certain amount of grace period in case of traffic or emergencies. Try not to be late to your custody mediation. Remember, in some counties the mediator may make a custody recommendation. So, do not be late.

Be polite

Custody mediation’s are supposed to be cooperative. Because in custody disputes emotions are high it can be hard to be polite. It is important for you to participate. If you do not participate in good-faith the judge can reschedule the heating to require you to participate in good-faith.

Show flexibility but do not be pushed  

Showing flexibility to reasonable proposals in custody mediation is important. Remember the goal is to act in the best interest of your child. However, do not be pushed around by the other side. A good strategy for showing flexibility but remaining firm is to give a counter proposal. For instance, if the other parent gives a suggestion that you do not agree with then take that suggestion and modify it to your liking and give a counter proposal. This way, you are engaging in flexible and firm negotiation.


Custody mediation in California is required. For you to make the most out of your mediation it is important to prepare for your custody mediation. Participate in good-faith and consider implementing the suggestions in this blog. Doing so,  can make a success out of your custody mediation in family court.