What is Mediation?
Mediation is a confidential, sensible way to resolve problems with the help of an impartial third party. Mediation allows parents to seek practical solutions, customized to fit their circumstances. Through mediation, parents may gain understanding of new ways to work with one another regarding their children.
How does it work?
With the assistance of a mediator, parents explore a variety of options to resolve issues instead of repeating past unsuccessful conversations. The mediator works with both parents to help them make decisions with confidence. A sensible plan created with collaboration between parents produces a recipe for parenting success!
What are the benefits of mediation?
Parents have the control over decisions made about their children, instead of leaving them for the court to decide. Through mediation, these decisions are made in a safe, open, and confidential environment. Mediation has proven to be less costly, both financially and emotionally, than utilizing the court system to resolve issues.
Why participate in mediation?
Participation in mediation is voluntary, unless it has been court ordered. Mediation can be initiated at any time, by either parent, with or without court involvement. Through mediation, parents learn skills which will help them discuss their issues in a productive way. Mediators do not give legal advice, therefore parents participating in mediation are encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other advisors during the mediation process.
What can we talk about in mediation?
Parents can discuss any issues regarding their children. For example, parents may want to discuss child custody, time with the children, special or changing needs of the children, child support, taxes, medical insurance, or even childcare. Any issue causing you concern regarding the children, can be discussed in mediation.
Will it be possible for us to reach an agreement?
Mediation is designed to focus on issues, not personal conflict. Even in the face of anger and hurt, it is possible for parents to find solutions that benefit them and their children. Many parents report satisfaction with the mediation process. Also, many parents participating in mediation do reach an agreement about some or most of the issues that concern them.
Is mediation available in my area?
M.A.R.C.H. Mediation is accessible to participants everywhere in Missouri. Any parent/caregiver in need of our services can participate. M.A.R.C.H. currently contracts with 70 mediators and a dozen limited scope attorneys state-wide. We provide in-person, phone, and virtual mediation options.
What information do I need if I am the initiating parent, contacting M.A.R.C.H. Mediation voluntarily?
Before contacting M.A.R.C.H. Mediation, you will need to provide the first and last name of the other parent and have information for at least one point of contact for the other parent. A current working phone number is best, but their address and/or email address can also be helpful. M.A.R.C.H. Mediation cannot assist in the location of the other parent. Unfortunately, mediation services cannot be performed if you cannot provide at least one point of contact for the other parent.
Is there a fee associated with using M.A.R.C.H. services?
Parents who have never been married, and parents who are divorced, may be eligible for free mediation. Eligible families in Missouri can receive up to four hours of free mediation per year. Families that are eligible for free mediation are also eligible for free legal services to assist with court document filing. Court document filing is necessary when parents reach an agreement during mediation and want that agreement to be mandated by the court (binding). M.A.R.C.H. can also assist with court filing fees for eligible cases.
Why would I want the agreement to be binding?
When an agreement is reached in mediation, it is not binding until it becomes a court order. Because the court must approve any change in custody, parenting schedules, or child support, parents have the option to have the agreement binding, by submitting it to the court for approval.
How do I qualify for free mediation?
M.A.R.C.H. is sponsored by Missouri Department of Social Services, Family Support Division. Parents that have an active IV-D case (if you pay or receive child support) through the state of Missouri, you will qualify for free services. It is not income-based. If you need to open a child support case in Missouri, you can Apply Here.
What if I don’t qualify for free mediation?
When parties aren't eligible for free mediation, M.A.R.C.H. can still provide in-person, phone, or virtual mediation at a cost of $200 an hour per parent (2 hour minimum).
Dawn speaks with 103 Jamz about the MARCH program and the services we offer throughout the state of Missouri!