The issue of child custody comes up in almost every divorce case filed in the Sacramento

County Family Court. This is too often one of the most difficult and emotional issues that parents will have to face during a divorce case.

    The California Family Code requires that parents attend Custody Mediation before their matter goes before the Judge. This allows the parents an opportunity to work out their custody arrangements themselves without having to rely on the Judge to make an order that a parent may not agree with.

    Most parents will have their first mediation session with a mediator affiliated with the local Court. Sacramento County provides excellent Custody Mediators at the office of Family Court Services. There is no charge for parents to have a 2 to 3 hour mediation appointment before the court date. The mediator will assist the parents in making a custody agreement and write it up into a report when the session is over. If the parents do not reach an agreement, the Mediator will write a written recommendation to the Judge as to what the mediator believes is the custody schedule that is best for the children.

    Parents also have the option of requesting the Judge to refer the parents to private mediation.  A private mediator is usually a Counselor in private practice who is on the Court approved list to provide child custody mediation to parents in a Family Law matter.

    This option can be quite expensive, mediators will typically require an initial retainer of about $1,500 before the first mediation session. Many parents find that this is money well spent. A private mediator will often meet with parents two or three different times in order to develop a parenting schedule that works for both parents. Despite the cost, many people appreciate the careful work that a private mediator can put into a custody order.

    Many longstanding custody fights that have gone on for years and cost the parties thousands of dollars in legal fees have been settled in one or two sessions with a good private mediator.