California's Answer: Mandatory Mediation of Child Custody and Visitation Disputes



In the United States divorce has become commonplace Approximately thirty-eight percent of all marriages are now ending in divorce. Since 1950 the divorce rate has doubled from 3.3 per thousand to 5.6 per thousand in population.' Because of this rapid increase, family courts handling divorces and associated disputes have had to find new ways to process the divorce tidal wave California has met this challenge by becoming the first state to enact a statute that required mediation of child custody and visitation disputes. Although flawed, this mediation process has several advantages over the traditional adversarial fact-finding process in resolving divorce disputes. Before divorce law reform began, the traditional domestic relations court processed divorce and child custody cases in much the same way as any other civil case, by using ajudge or jury trial once settlement could not be reached.2 The state courts reserved the right to say whether a divorce would be granted, how the assets would be divided, whether alimony would be allowed, and who would obtain custody of any children from the marriage The state courts justified their supervision of the marriage relationship by the states' parens patriae responsibility to its citizens. 3 In every case, the spouse requesting the divorce had to assert proper grounds, generally statutory, for the termination of the marriage. 4 This requirement blended well with the standard, adversarial civil trial because one spouse was found to have wronged the other. In the 1970s the no-fault divorce statutes emerged. 5 These statutes allowed a divorce without a party having to assert that

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@inproceedings{DIVORCECaliforniasAM, title={California's Answer: Mandatory Mediation of Child Custody and Visitation Disputes}, author={I . DIVORCE} }