What is Parenting Mediation?
This program is designed for parents who have never been married and who must go to Juvenile Court to sort out issues of visitation and child support. In CMC’s Parenting Mediation, parents meet with two specially trained mediators to discuss parenting arrangements and seek a resolution that is acceptable to both and in the best interest of the child(ren).
How much does it cost?
There is a $25 per parent application fee, but otherwise no cost to the parties involved in the Parenting Mediation Program. The service is funded in large part by Knox County Juvenile Court and by donations from CMC supporters. The time and willingness of the parties to reach a peaceful, mutually beneficial resolution to a painful concern is an investment in our children.
What happens in mediation?
In the mediation, parents sit down with each other and two co-mediators to identify the issues and areas for discussion, establishing goals and common ground, and explore possible solutions. The mediators work with the parties to ensure equal participation, assist them in reaching an agreement, and write the final agreement. It is not the role of the mediators to provide legal advice or to evaluate the parties’ chances in court.
Where does the mediation occur?
The parenting mediations normally occur in our Juvenile Annex on Division Street, near the Knox County Juvenile Court.
How long does it take to mediate a parenting plan?
Our parenting mediations are normally scheduled in the evenings, Monday-Thursday, 6pm-9pm. If the parties are mediating together well, our sessions normally last 3 hours. A session can be continued to a later time. Many parents mediate once a week for 2-4 sessions until their parenting plan is done.
Will I Have to go to Court?
Mediation may eliminate the need for an appearance in Juvenile Court. If an agreement is reached, mediation center staff will submit the petition and agreement to Juvenile Court. The judge reviews the agreement for completeness and to see if it serves the “best interests” of the children).
I have mediated and reached a mediated agreement and I have a scheduled court date.
If the parties have a court date scheduled, they should appear in court. If the judge approves the mediation agreement, the parties will receive a copy of the certified order. The judge may want to discuss the terms of the agreement before entering it as an order of the court.
I have reached a mediated agreement but I do not have a scheduled court appearance.
If the parties do not have a court date scheduled, each party should go to the Clerk’s desk at Child Support Division of Knox County Juvenile Court, located in the Old County Courthouse, 3rd floor, on Main & Gay. For better service, each party should take their copy of the mediated agreement. The clerk will make a certified copy of the agreement with the Judge’s signature. There will be a charge for this.
How does the process start?
Parents can be referred to CMC in three ways:
1. The Juvenile Court judge/referee will order the parties to try mediation instead of filing a petition to modify visitation.
2. The Juvenile Court intake office will refer to CMC the parent who tries to file a petition to modify visitation.
3. The Child Support Enforcement Office may refer parents to CMC.
4. One parent may call and request mediation; CMC can call the other parent.
Upon receiving a referral, CMC staff will explain the program further and conduct a screening to determine whether the case is appropriate for mediation. The other party will then be contacted to discuss using mediation. Mediation is voluntary, so both parties must be willing to use the process in order to proceed. If the case is appropriate and both parties are willing, a mediation session is scheduled as soon as possible at a convenient time for all.
Who are the co-mediators?
Mediators are volunteers who have completed an excellent basic mediation training and specialized Juvenile Court training. They come from all walks of life and are prepared to help families reach agreement on parenting arrangements.
Why should I try mediation?
Mediation is quickly scheduled, free and private. It allows you to shape your own agreement and reflect a mutual decision in the best interest of your family. Filing fees and court costs, attorney fees, lost time during the day to attend multiple court hearings, possibility of other costs associated with proving your case (drug screens, psychological evaluations, home studies, GAL costs), and most important of all—the emotional toll on yourself, your child(ren) and other family members.
You can also protect your children from an adversarial environment by working together to establish parenting arrangements.
For more information, please contact our office.