Kate's Court Connected Family Mediation Process - Marion County

In most cases, divorcing couples with children or parents who are involved in a custody modification through the court system are required to attend mediation. The court process is new for many people experiencing changes in their families. Here's what to expect when attending court-connected mediation with Kate Hall. (It is important to note that while Kate is an attorney, she cannot act as your attorney if she mediates in the same matter. It is recommended that you consult with an independent attorney throughout your process.)

Before mediation

You will be required to attend a mediation orientation session at the courthouse. The orientations are typically held on Wednesday afternoons. At your session, you will learn the basic process of mediation and have the opportunity to choose a mediator. It is best to make your selection in advance by agreeing with the other parent if possible. Ask your attorney to stipulate (agree) to the choice of your mediator with the other parent or their attorney.  

The Marion County Court also requires that you take a parenting class, such as Children Cope with Divorce (COPE). The Court has adopted this program to reduce the negative impact of divorce and custody issues on children. As the mediation will focus on what is best for your your child or children, it is recommended that you take the COPE class before the first scheduled mediation session. Also, if you need childcare during mediation, Midvalley Court Care provides free childcare for parents attending mediation. (More information on the class and childcare in the "Resources" section of this website).

Mediation

Mediation takes place at my office, 960 Broadway St NE, Suite 4, Salem, OR 97301 or another agreed-upon location. I conduct my mediations in person, but I may agree to mediate over the phone if there are special circumstances.

At the beginning of mediation, we will first go over any process questions, sign an agreement to mediate In most cases, I will do a separate 10-15 minute check in with each party initially and meet all together. At the beginning of our joint session, we will establish an agenda based on what both parents want to accomplish in mediation. 

During our meeting, we will discuss options, alternatives, and potential outcomes based on different scenarios. I try to make what might be an uncomfortable conversation as comfortable as possible.  It is important to note that I will not be making any decisions or talking to the judge about your case. My role is to ask questions, make suggestions, and generally facilitate the conversation so that we spend the time focused on resolving the issues at hand and come to the best possible outcome for everyone involved, especially for your children.

Often, it is helpful for me to meet with each party separately during the mediation. It is not a reflection on either party if I suggest a separate meeting. You may also suggest a separate meeting at any time. You may ask me to not share things that you say in our separate meetings, and I will generally honor those requests unless what you share is going to affect the behavior of the other party.

For issues concerning families, a few sessions are usually required to come to a successful resolution. Once we come to an agreed-upon plan, I will write it up so that it reflects the intentions of the parties and will be helpful resource if any future issues arise. I will provide the plan to you and your attorneys for review, and then we will sign and file it in the court.

Confidentiality:

Mediation is confidential, but I am required to report if I believe that someone has abused a child, elderly person, or if a person is making credible threats of harm to themselves or someone else.

If this case is resolved in mediation, my parenting plan, draft judgment or other memorandum of agreement can be attached to a judgment and filed in court. Documents in the court record are not confidential. You may not call me as a witness or request that my notes or draft documents be brought before the court. If you are (or become represented) I may discuss what you have said and the positions that you take in mediation with your attorney, but I will not discuss anything that the other party has said with your attorney (or vice versa). It is not a violation of confidentiality for you to speak to your attorney about what happens in mediation. I recommend that you consult with an attorney throughout the process and before signing any documents.

Neutrality:

As an impartial third party, I will not decide any issues in your case or determine whether any person is right or wrong. I will maintain neutrality, giving equal consideration to the needs, ideas and recommendations of both parties.

Although I am an attorney, I cannot act as an attorney for either side if I am acting as your mediator. I cannot give you legal advice. This means that I can tell you what the law is, but not what to do.  I recommend that you consult with an attorney if you do not have one and I encourage you to discuss any issues with your attorney at any time during the mediation process.

Responsibilities of parties to mediation:

The best results from mediation come when parties are prepared.

Helpful preparation tips:

·       Think about what you want to accomplish in mediation and be open to coming up with and talking about creative solutions. Considering the needs of everyone involved will often go a long way in coming up with a resolution that sticks around for the long term. 

·       Compile and review all of the information that is pertinent to making decisions about issues to be discussed in mediation. (For example, if parenting time is an issue in your mediation, you can prepare by checking your work schedule and the schedules of anyone who might be providing childcare during your parenting time.)

·       Take care of your physical health. Adequate rest, nutrition, and hydration are important when making good decisions about your future.

·       Ask me or your lawyer any questions that you have.