It’s no surprise that child custody often leads to heated debates and contentious disputes. It can seem impossible to agree on who should have primary custody and when each parent will have access to the children, but these are decisions that will have to be made.
Mandatory Mediation for Child Custody Cases
In California, mediation is mandatory only for child custody cases. If two parents cannot agree on custody arrangements and a parenting plan, courts will order mandatory custody mediation before hearing the case and allowing the parents to pursue litigation. This order is an effort to free up the courts, reduce backlog, and see if the parties can reach an amicable agreement that reflects their child’s best interests without a judge’s intervention.
In most cases, both parents are willing to give mediation a shot. But what happens when one parent is stubborn and refuses to appear for the mediation session? Or what if the other parent simply cannot be found or reached?
If your ex fails to appear for court-ordered child custody mediation, you might be wondering what it means for you. What will happen next, and what are your options moving forward? Depending on the circumstances, a few things might happen when one parent doesn’t show up for mediation.
Reschedule the Session
It’s quite possible that your ex-spouse or your child’s other parent simply had a hardship that prevented them from showing up for your mediation session. Of course, it’s also possible that they dropped the ball or ignored their responsibility. If you agree to reschedule the mediation at least once, you’ll be showing the judge that you made a good faith effort to resolve the dispute and be accommodating.
Continuation of Hearing
If you are certain that the other parent is willingly shirking their responsibility, your attorney can file paperwork to continue pursuing the hearing. At this point, a judge will get involved and will have to hear the case in court.
The good news is that you now have the advantage – the judge is probably annoyed that the other parent refused to attend mediation and will likely issue a ruling in your favor. Refusing to show up for mediation is a bad look that can affect the judge’s decisions regarding custody, visitation, and even child support.
Contempt of Court
If a court ordered you and the other parent to attempt mediation, you are obligated to do so. Your ex’s decision to refuse mediation could put them in contempt of court. Disobeying a court order carries potential penalties.
Being found in contempt of court could put your ex at risk of:
- Community service
- Jail time
- Paying your attorney’s fees
Alternative Divorce Solutions Can Help
Every parent should act in their child’s best interests, so it is undeniably frustrating when one parent refuses to cooperate and make the effort to reach an agreeable custody arrangement. If your ex failed to appear for your court-ordered child custody mediation session, be sure to retain aggressive legal representation. Our family lawyers at Alternative Divorce Solutions take these cases seriously and can help you take action to hold your ex accountable.