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Child Dependency Mediation Update

This article discusses the successful innovative approaches that SoCal Family Mediators have developed.

Great mediators are negotiators of acumen, surrogate negotiators really.  Our proof of concept enters its 4th year in August, with a 95% agreement rate, serving both L.A. County courthouses and all 25 (and growing) courtrooms, and the coparenting families of L.A. County.
Our elite team of certified volunteers comediate ‘Parenting Plan’s (AKA custody & visitation) for coparenting families, as they exit the juvenile Justice system.  Visits may or may not include overnights and may be monitored.  
We operate at the heart of social conflict, helping keep children safe from the dangers of the shelter-care rotation.  In this uniquely conflicted, court-connected environment, we have instituted procedures for Phone Mediatons for out of state, or even incarcerated parents.
Mediating a list of monitors is one of many of what I call ‘situational mediations’.  Situational mediations are common components of agreements.  I put training guides together for the various situational mediations.
Southern California Family Mediation,, offers a teaching and learning environment.  Our specially-trained volunteers get to teach and comediate with 2nd & 3rd year USC Law students in the Spring, and LLM & Master’s in ADR students in the Fall.  We are in our 3rd year partnering with USC.
Innovative Keys to Our Success

One key to our success has been having multiple mediators on a case.  Co-mediators have a pre-mediation discussion for each case.  We begin each mediation shuttle style, due to the prevalence of TROs, CPOs, and codependency.  Co-mediators caucus at each exchange of parents.  These are opportunities to discuss what worked, what didn’t, the information gathered, and to strategize for the next session.  At the end, we debrief lessons learned.  All that adds up to a lot of learning.

Another key to our success has been an emphasis on clarity of thought, goal orientation, and strategy.  Coparents experiencing high conflict are typically entrenched in their conflict stories, and commonly unable to focus on the bigger picture.  A lot of little agreements add up to one big agreement.  Coparents are frequently shocked to discover it, when they have completed their Parenting Plan.  Attorneys are asked to see parents whom have not spoken in months having lunch together.

Another key to our success has been multipartiality.  Rose Kennedy once said, ” There’s nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view that I hold dear.”  It is in this spirit that I offer the following controversial statement.  Mediators who practice neutrality are simply under-tooled for the most challenging conflicts.

You must negotiate with perspicacity to unwind a twice-tangled-and-through knot.  Multipartiality is different than neutrality, because we actively negotiate with and for both sides.  The bias-control component is really no different than it is with neutrality.  After all, there’s no such thing as a neutral question.  If they ! knew how to negotiate like professionals, they wouldn’t need us (and I pray for that day).
Our once-a-year Child Dependency Mediation Training, held at USC Law School, taught by a Judicial Officer, begins Sunday, September 9th, 2018.  You may qualify to join our elite team of mediators, in either Monterey Park or Antelope Valley, California.  Please, visit to find out more.

Randy Drew

Specializing in the impossible (well, if I get to write it), L. Randy Drew is Co-Executive Program Director of Southern California Family Mediation, humbly serving the California, Los Angeles Superior Dependency Court, and in partnership with the University of Southern California Gould School of Law’s Judith O. Hollinger Dispute Resolution… MORE >

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