In West Virginia, Family Courts require parents to mediate custody and parenting plan issues as part of a divorce proceeding.
The parties may also mediate the remaining issues, including alimony or spousal support and property settlement.
In mediation, the mediator facilitates communication between the parties in an effort to devise a parenting plan that suits the needs, schedules and desires of both the parents and the children. As the parents know what is in the best interest of their children, they should devise a mutually agreeable plan if at all possible. Without a mediated resolution of a Parenting Plan, the parents leave the important decisions surrounding their children to a Judge who will devise his/her own schedule for how and when parenting will occur.
Other issues in a contested divorce may also be mediated, including alimony or spousal support and distribution of property. With mediation, the parties are able to address issues in an effort to deal with and avoid future disputes between them and potentially preserve relationships that may otherwise further deteriorate with continued litigation. Importantly, a mediated settlement will reduce the costs, stress and emotional toll which often accompanies a contested divorce.
What are the Costs of Mediation?
The mediator is paid on an hourly basis for her time in the mediation conference and for reviewing the case in preparation for the mediation session. Generally, the mediation fee is split equally among the parties, although the parties may agree to other arrangements. Often times the Family Law Judge will enter an Order referring the matter to mediation and will assign a percentage to each party for the cost of the mediation.