Establishment of Visitation for Never Married Parents Mediation Program

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a problem solving process in which a neutral professional (the mediator) facilitates communication between parents regarding visitation issues and concerns. The mediator helps parents develop a visitation plan that is in the best interest of their children.



Who May Request Visitation Mediation?

Never married parents may request visitation mediation through this program if one of them currently lives in Franklin County, Ohio.  Additionally, never married parents who have a paternity or child support order from this Court may request mediation to establish visitation for a child who is the subject of that order.



How Does Mediation Work?

A parent who would like to establish a visitation plan contacts Mediation Services and completes a Request for Visitation Mediation form.  Mediation Services then schedules a mediation session and notifies both parents, by mail, of the date and time of the mediation session. Mediation sessions are usually held in the Mediation Services Offices, 373 S. High Street, 3rd floor, Columbus, Ohio.

At the mediation session, the mediator will ask each parent to present his or her view of the issues.  The mediator will also ask the parents to discuss the needs of their children regarding visitation and the ways in which the parents can meet these needs.  The mediator guides the communication process so that all participants have a chance to be heard.  Conflicts are discussed one at a time, and various solutions are explored. The mediator may help parents develop options to resolve the issues, but the final agreement is made by the parents.



What are the Benefits of Mediation?

Mediation is a process that gives the parents the opportunity to resolve issues for their children and themselves rather than have a judge or magistrate decide for them.

The mediator does not make any decisions for the parents but helps the parents come to an agreement that works for them.



Do We Both Have to Participate?

Mediation is a joint, cooperative problem solving process and it is necessary for both parents to participate. The parents work together, with the help of the mediator, to develop a mutually agreed upon visitation plan.



Do I Need an Attorney?

Mediators help the participants reach their own agreements and can not give legal advice. Attorneys rarely attend mediation sessions. However, many participants find it useful to consult with an attorney, either before or after the mediation session, to discuss their rights and responsibilities concerning visitation.  Attorneys help their clients understand the law and make informed decisions. When the parents reach agreement in mediation, they may want to incorporate the final agreement into an Agreed Judgment Entry.  Attorneys can assist with this process.



How Long Will Mediation Take?

A mediation session will take 1½ to 2½ hours depending on the number and complexity of the issues that are being mediated.  The participants may meet for only one session or be asked to return for additional sessions.



What Does It Cost?

There is currently no charge to participants.  This mediation program is funded by a grant from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.



The Mediated Agreement

Any agreement that is reached must be voluntary on the part of both parties.  No agreement will be signed unless all participants are satisfied with all statements contained in the agreement.
 

Mediation agreements become legally binding if a formal motion is filed with the Court, the agreement is presented to the Court in the form of an Agreed Judgment Entry, and the Court approves the proposed Agreed Judgment Entry.



What Happens if No Agreement is Reached?

If no agreement is reached, a parent can file a formal Court action.



What about Confidentiality?

Everything that is said during a mediation session is confidential.  Neither the mediator nor the mediator's notes can be subpoenaed to Court.  However, by law, mediators are required to report any new allegation of abuse, neglect or threat of bodily harm to a child.



Can I Bring My New Spouse, Fiancé, Girlfriend, Boyfriend or Children to the Mediation?

Usually the mediation session involves only the parents.  If you believe there are other people who should participate, discuss the issue with the mediator.
 

Childcare is NOT available.  Please do not bring children to the mediation.




For more information, contact:

Christy Cumberlander Walker
Staff Mediator
Office of Mediation Services
373 South High Street, 3rd Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
(614) 525- 6147
or (614) 525-6640
Fax - (614) 525-3748
E-mail: Christy_Walker@fccourts.org