Parenting Plan Mediations
When parents disagree on a parenting plan, mediation helps them to resolve the conflict.
- Mediation is confidential and involves both parents meeting one or more times with a mediator
- Parents are encouraged to focus on the needs of their children and put aside the conflicts they have
- Each parent has an equal role in decision-making during the mediation process
- As a neutral party, the mediator works with the parents to find areas of agreement for the parenting plan
- Agreements reached are drafted by the mediator and provided to the parents and/or attorneys
Family Court Services (FCS) does not mediate:
- Child Support
- Cases with a current Domestic Violence (DV) protection order or where there are existing family violence concerns
Mediation services are required for parties who disagree about their parenting plan/residential time. You may be ordered or referred to FCS for mediation in one of four ways:
- Order for Transfer to FCS: court order signed by a judicial officer;
- Confirmation of Issues (COI): required court document for family law cases where the parties have children in common who are under the age of 18. Cases are referred to FCS via the filing of the Confirmation of Issues when the parents indicate that the "parenting of the children is contested," meaning the parties are not in agreement on the parenting plan;
- Relocation Cases: when one party requests to relocate and the relocation is disputed by the other party, the court makes a referral to FCS; or
- Co-Petition: voluntary agreement by both parties to participate in mediation which is self-generated. This most often occurs when a party desires a Parenting Plan Modification (alteration to the existing order) and mediation is required in the Dispute Resolution section of that Parenting Plan.
When FCS receives the Confirmation of Issues, an Order of Transfer to FCS, or Co-Petition, an FCS case number will be generated, and you will receive a Mediation Questionnaire in the mail to complete and return. The forms are provided below in the event you did not receive your questionnaire in the mail.
- Mediation Questionnaire - KCCH (Seattle)
- Mediation Questionnaire - MRJC (Kent)
- Cuestionario para Mediación (Español) - KCCH (Seattle)
- Cuestionario para Mediación (Español) - MRJC (Kent)
A mediation appointment date will be set when:
- Both parties have completed the “What about the Children” Parent Seminar (court requirement for all parents in a custody dispute, but not required for third-party custody cases);
- Both parties have returned their Mediation Questionnaires and the Income Verification Form; and
- The returned questionnaires are screened and the case is deemed appropriate for mediation.
When parents disagree on the modification of an existing Parenting Plan, the Dispute Resolution section of the last Final Parenting Plan order may stipulate that the parties must seek mediation through Family Court Services (FCS.) This is accomplished through a Co-Petition.
FSC will close the mediation case when:
- A final Parenting Plan order has been entered and signed by a judicial officer;
- The parties have secured one of the following alternate mediation services (and have notified FCS):
- Private mediation;
- Family Law Settlement Conference; or
- Early Resolution Case Manager (ERCM)—normally referred by the judge;
- A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) or Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is assigned to the case; or
- The parties haven’t met the compliance requirements within six weeks.
Court Ordered Meditations cannot be closed unless:
- The case has been finalized by the court;
- The court notifies FCS that mediation is no longer required; or
- The case is transferred to an Evaluation.
The FCS Mediation Fees are assessed on a sliding fee scale similar to the calculations on the Child Support Worksheet. Each party pays their own fee based on income, but the combined fees cannot exceed $1000.00. The fee payments are divided over a 12-month period, but cannot be less than $25.00. The fee invoice will be sent to each client from the King County Finance office approximately two weeks after the mediation appointment.
For those clients who are unable to afford the full fee amount, we have a Fee Reduction Request form. You must complete the entire form and send it to the appropriate FCS location.