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Domestic Relations Mediation

Information about Domestic Relations Mediation.

What is domestic relations mediation?
Why do people choose mediation?
When do people come to mediation?
Is mediation confidential?
Is mediation mandatory?
What are the mediators’ qualifications?
Does the mediator make recommendations to the court?
What about domestic violence?
What if there is a restraining order between us?
How successful is mediation?
Do I need an attorney?
What does mediation cost?
How many sessions will we need?
Can I bring another person to the appointment?
Do you meet with our children?
Do you provide mediation in languages other than English?
Is Resolution Services my only option?
How do I schedule an appointment?
What should I expect at the first appointment?
What should I bring to my first appointment?

What is domestic relations mediation?
Mediation is a method of resolving disputes and reaching agreements. In mediation, the mediator acts as an impartial person who assists the parties in negotiating with one another, offers information, and summarizes in writing any agreements reached by both parties.

Why do people choose mediation?
Mediation is one method of resolving disputes. Some people choose mediation because they find it less expensive than litigation. Others wish to resolve issues in a more amicable, non-adversarial way. Current research shows us that children’s well-being after divorce is significantly impacted by the degree of conflict between the parents. Mediation can help the parties decrease the conflict between them and work cooperatively for the benefit of the children. Research also indicates that parents are more likely to adhere to agreements arrived at through mediation than imposed by a third party, another reason why some people choose to create a parenting plan through mediation.

When do people come to mediation?
Our Domestic Relations Mediation services assist parties to reach agreements regarding issues such as child custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support, and property division. These services are offered to married and unmarried partners, and to parties who are currently separating or divorcing as well as to those who have post-divorce changes in circumstances. Some people come before they have filed anything in court. Others come after they have filed. Still others come to mediate issues that have arisen since the original order. Most people come to mediation when they recognize that the use of an impartial person may be helpful in resolving the issues between them.

Is mediation confidential?
The confidentiality of our Domestic Relations Mediation services is protected by state law. There are certain limitations to the protection of confidentiality. Staff will review the protections and limitations of confidentiality in the initial appointment, and answer any questions you may have.

Is mediation mandatory?
In some jurisdictions, the court mandates that parties with minor children attend mediation. In Clackamas County, mediation is voluntary. That is, it is not required by the court for all parties in which there is a dispute regarding children, as in some other jurisdictions. On occasion, the court will order parties into mediation. In such cases, Resolution Services is statutorily required to notify the court within 30 days of the date of the order whether or not the parties contacted CCRS in compliance with the court order.

What are the mediators’ qualifications?
Our highly experienced and professional Domestic Relations Mediators on staff have masters' level education in the law and/or a behavioral science, such as social work, marriage and family therapy, or psychology. They have advanced domestic relations mediation training and have completed supervised mediation internships, and meet the requirements of Court-Connected Domestic Relations Mediators under the Chief Justice Order No. 05-028. In addition, the staff attends numerous continuing education trainings each year.

Does the mediator make recommendations to the court?
Clackamas County Resolution Services mediators do not make decisions for parties, do not perform child custody evaluations, and do not make recommendations to the court.

What about domestic violence?
Resolution Services is committed to client safety. Mediation is helpful for many parties, but is not helpful or appropriate in all circumstances. Resolution Services is required by law to assess for domestic violence in mediation cases. Staff conducts an initial and ongoing evaluation to determine the presence and degree of domestic violence between the parties, and to take steps to protect the safety of the participants accordingly, up to and including terminating the mediation. Clients are encouraged to share any concerns they have about their own or another person’s safety with CCRS staff.

What if there is a restraining order between us?
If there is a current restraining order between the parties, or if there has been a restraining order between the parties at any time within the last calendar year, CCRS will schedule a completely separate initial appointment with each party. During the initial individual appointments, CCRS will work with each person to determine whether mediation is appropriate in their case, and, if so, what additional arrangements are necessary for client safety during the mediation process.

How successful is mediation?
Mediation meets the needs of most participants. A significant majority (about 75%) of clients who seek our services, and for whom there is an opportunity for agreement (meaning that both parties to the dispute come to mediation and agree to mediate), reach agreement on some or all of the issues between them. In addition, many parties report that through mediation, the level of conflict between them has decreased.

Do I need an attorney?
Mediation is not a substitute for legal advice or legal representation. CCRS encourages all mediation clients to seek the advice of an attorney regarding their individual situation and needs. CCRS also recognizes that many parties in domestic relations actions are “pro se,” or represent themselves rather than being represented by counsel.

What does mediation cost?
Free Sessions:
If you are a new client and you have a family law related matter that you wish to mediate, each person is entitled to one (1) initial individual session and one (1) joint session free of charge.

If you are a returning client and wish to mediate a post-judgment matter, you are entitled to one (1) initial joint session free of charge. If you are a returning client, each of you may also qualify for one (1) individual session free of charge if:
   a) There has been domestic violence, Family Abuse Prevention Restraining Order (FAPA), or no contact order between you within the past year;
   b) You are scheduled to work with a mediator who is new to you;
   c) It has been greater than two (2) years since your last session;
   d) At Resolution Services' (RS') discretion.

If mediation extends beyond the free sessions, the fee for mediation services is $90.00 per hour. If you would like to learn if you qualify for a fee waiver or payment plan, please speak to CCRS staff.

How many sessions will we need?
The number of sessions that clients need varies, depending on the number and complexity of the issues the parties wish to resolve. The average domestic relations mediation case at Resolution Services takes under 4 sessions. Rarely, very complex cases can take 10 or more sessions.

Can I bring another person to the appointment?
Third parties, such as new significant others, relatives, or friends, are only allowed to take part in a session if both parties to the mediation agree to have that third party present.

Do you meet with our children?
CCRS recognizes the importance of being aware of the needs of the children when making plans for the future. We do not routinely meet with children, however we will talk with parents to evaluate their and their children’s needs. If both parents agree that it would be beneficial for a child to meet with the mediator directly, such a meeting can be arranged. The mediator does not perform child custody evaluations.

Do you provide mediation in languages other than English?
Yes. We provide mediation in Spanish.

We provide mediation through contracted interpreters in ASL and other languages upon request. There is no additional charge to clients for interpretation services.

Please see Servicios en Espanol.

Is Resolution Services my only option?
Clackamas County Resolution Services offers high quality, affordable mediation services to families. Our mediation services are one option for resolving family law-related issues. Private mediators are also available, and can be located through the telephone book or the Oregon Mediation Association. Some parties reach agreements on their own without the use of professionals, other parties opt to work only through their attorneys. There are also some resources available for parties who wish to represent themselves. Please see our Links section for more information. CCRS staff will happily provide you information about the resources in our community to help you determine what the best option for you and your family.

How do I schedule an appointment?

You may call our offices at 503-655-8415 during regular business hours. Our staff will conduct a brief intake with you (usually 10-15 minutes), asking you some basic information about your case and the issues you want to discuss in mediation. The front office staff will also set your appointment at that time.

Next, you may download a copy of our Intake Form and complete it prior to your first session. If you cannot download a copy of the form and complete it ahead of time, please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your first session so that you will have enough time to complete the additional paperwork. If you have questions, please call us during our regular business hours.

What should I expect at the first appointment?
In the first appointment, the mediator will explain the mediation process to help you determine if you want to proceed with mediation. The mediator will also have you review and sign some forms including the Consent to Mediate, the Confidentiality Form, and the Fee Agreement.

At your initial individual appointment, the mediator will meet with you for a one hour appointment. After each person has an initial individual appointment, a joint appointment for 1½ hours in length can be scheduled.

Also, if you are returning for a post-judgment matter and have had a joint appointment (with both parties present) here in the past, an initial joint appointment is scheduled for 1½ hours in length.

What should I bring to my first appointment?
Generally, we recommend that you bring copies of any legal documents you have with you. If you are wishing to mediate a change in an existing order, please bring a copy of that order. If you are wishing to mediate any financial or property issues, you may wish to bring supporting documents. If you are mediating a parenting plan, you may wish to write down what you are currently doing and/or what your proposed plan is. You may find it helpful to review “How Do I Get Started?”, a publication of the Oregon Judicial Department, prior to your appointment.

CCRS is unable to provide childcare during mediation appointments. Please make alternate arrangements for your children.

For more information, please e-mail us.