1. You May Not Need To Go.
Local Rules in Cuyahoga County state that all new Applications to Determine the Custody of a Child or Motions for Parenting Time or Motions to Modify the Allocation of Parental Rights and Responsibilities must be referred to mediation. However, a party can request to be exempted from mediation in any of the following situations:
- Cases where one party has been convicted or pled guilty to domestic violence within the past two years or when a civil protection order is in effect;
- Cases in which the physical distance between the parties is so great that it isn’t practical for them to participate in mediation;
- Cases in which one of the parties is mentally ill;
- In emergency situations requiring an immediate hearing;
- Cases where the parties have reached an agreement and executed an Agreed Judgment Entry.
2. You May Wish to Speak to an Attorney before Attending Mediation.
Before you attend mediation, it is a good idea to explore what exactly you want and what a good outcome would be for you. An attorney can review your case and give you guidance as to what a Court would likely order. That way you can confidently enter an agreement during the mediation if the appropriate offer is made or confidently say no to a poor offer. It is also good to know that if you are unable to reach a satisfactory agreement in mediation, you have an attorney waiting in the wings who is ready to represent you in Court.
3. You Don’t Have to Agree to Anything.
I will write it again for emphasis, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO AGREE TO ANYTHING! If you and the other party cannot come to an agreement, your case will go through the normal judicial process. You are entitled to have a Court make a determination on your case if you are not happy with what the other party is offering.
4. Agreements Reached Are Binding.
Just because you are not in a Court of Law doesn’t mean the Agreement you reach isn’t binding. Make no mistake about it, any agreement you sign during the course of mediation is binding as an Order of the Court. That means that you cannot later change your mind and if you choose to disregard the Order, you could be held in contempt by the Court and subjected to fines and/or imprisonment. So, don’t sign anything unless you are absolutely sure!