What to expect from family court mediation

Before a judge makes a decision, you'll likely need to meet with a mediator. Family court mediators are trained mental health professionals who are knowledgeable about child development, family dynamics, and the effects of separation, divorce, and trauma. Meeting with a mediator is your chance to meet with a neutral person who can help you and the parents talk and potentially work through your disagreement. 

What to expect in mediation

Mediation focuses on your grandchild's best interests

Not every mediation will be exactly the same. For example, the questions the mediator asks or how they meet with you, together or separate, may be different. But, no matter how the session is run, the focus is on your grandchild's best interests.

The mediator will want to know

  • The type of relationship you and the grandchild have had over the years
  • What concerns the parents have about you spending time with the grandchild

In some cases, the mediator may want to speak with the grandchild.

The mediator may want to figure out what happened that led you to ask for the court's help

The mediator may start with general questions about your current situation. And, they'll want to understand what happened that has made the parents not want visits. They may also ask what you and the parents have tried to avoid filing in court.

Mediators can work with you to come up with solutions

Usually, you'll discuss the reason or reasons why a parent does not think their child should have the visits you want. In mediation, you can talk about the issues and work with the mediator to come up with possible solutions to address the parent's concerns.

  • example: A plan for the child's best interest

    A grandparent asks to have the grandchild overnight every other weekend. The child sees their other grandparents on weekends and has other activities, like sports and spending time with their friends. The parent thinks every other weekend and overnights is too much given the child's busy schedule.

    The grandparents and parents may agree that the grandparents will spend one Sunday a month with the grandchild. Then, during the summer, the child can have a couple of overnight visits that work with their schedules.

If you reach an agreement, the judge can make it an order

If you and your grandchildren’s parents reach an agreement in mediation, the judge will review it and decide whether to approve it. If approved, the judge will sign it. You will have a court order.

If you don't reach an agreement, a judge will decide

If you don’t reach an agreement in mediation, then the judge will make the decision whether to grant visitation. Sometimes, it may happen on the same day of mediation. Other times, you will have to return to court to see the judge.

In some counties, before the judge decides, the mediator will write up a report and include recommendations for the judge to review. Whether the mediator does this depends on the type of mediation the court does. Some courts use mediation, others use child custody recommending counseling. If the court uses recommending counseling, then the mediator will write up a report with recommendations for the judge to review. You can ask your mediator what they do before your session begins so you know what to expect.

success alert banner:

Have a question about Grandparent visitation?

Look for a "Chat Now" button in the right bottom corner of your screen. If you don’t see it, disable any pop-up/ad blockers on your browser.