Courts can require parents to negotiate child custody issues through mediation before bringing the matter before a judge.
Where a child lives most of the time and how much access is given to each parent are among the most passionately fought issues in a California divorce. Unfortunately, the parents’ emotions about each other sometimes bleed over into custody and other divorce matters.
A professional mediator can help defuse anger and resolve disagreements to craft a workable and fair parenting plan.
TV Personalities Ordered to Attend Mediation
An example of when mediation is often appropriate is the custody dispute between Ant Anstead and Christina Hall. The former spouses share a 2-year-old son. The couple was married for two years before their split in 2020. Both Hall and Anstead also have children with ex-spouses.
Since that time, Anstead has called Hall’s parenting into question. His claims include the following:
- She returned the toddler to him without disclosing the child had tested positive for COVID-19.
- She has admitted to using the hallucinogenic Bufo Alvarius toad venom in the past.
- She spends an average of nine days per month with their son.
- She uses their son as a social media prop.
- She allowed their son to be sunburned.
Anstead went so far as to petition for emergency custody. In her response, Hall said that their son’s best interests were not the motivation for his petition. The court denied his emergency request.
Hall seemingly calls Anstead “toxic” without specifically naming him in an Instagram post.
Mediation is scheduled to begin on June 15, 2022, followed by the first court date on June 28.
Goals of Mediation in Child Custody Disputes
The ultimate goal of mediation is for parents to come to a compromise about child custody and parenting before going to court. A byproduct of mediation is that former couples can move beyond bitterness. A typical session lasts about two hours. One or two sessions are conducted.
The mediator can help parents agree on the following:
- A parenting plan that is in the best interest of the children
- A parenting plan that lets children spend valuable and significant time with each parent
A parenting plan usually addresses legal custody, physical custody, and parenting time (time-share or visitation).
The resulting document can become a custody and visitation order if signed by a judge. Custody mediation does not cover child support, property division, alimony, or other divorce issues.
Mediation Doesn’t Always Work
Mediation does not always end with a resolution. Some California counties (reporting counties) allow mediators to give a written recommendation to the parents and the court if the parents cannot agree to a parenting plan.
In Southern California, counties that allow reporting/recommending are San Bernadino, Riverside, and San Diego. Mediators do not create a report with recommendations in Orange and Los Angeles counties. The details of mediation are not shared with the court. Instead of recommendations, the mediator either drafts a document that outlines what was agreed upon or prepares a form that indicates no agreement was reached.
A judge will make custody decisions when parents are unable to do so.
Attorneys are instrumental in helping parents prepare for a productive mediation session. Legal counsel can attend mediation sessions in Los Angeles County, but that’s not the case in all counties.
Know Your Rights in Child Custody Cases
At Gille Kaye Law Group, PC, our decades of experience provide a depth of insight and strategy not found in all law firms. Every family has unique dynamics that must be addressed during any custody dispute. We honor those qualities while finding practical and effective solutions.
If you have questions about your impending divorce or custody dispute, contact us for a confidential consultation. Call (626) 340-0955 to schedule.