Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Translate
Dane County Family Court Services

Mediation

Court ordered referrals for mediation are made by a judge or a commissioner and may be based on a motion, petition, letter, or at a hearing. When mediation is ordered, both parents must participate. A waiver of mediation pursuant to statutory criteria may be requested from the referring judge or commissioner. There is no cost for the initial mediation session, but the parties will be required to pay a fee for repeat or extended sessions. Parties may also arrange for private mediation from a third party provider, as permitted by statute. Mediation must be completed within 45 days from the assignment date of Parent Education (60 days in families with domestic violence that has been identified by the Court) of the Court’s referral.

Commissioners will evaluate post-judgment verified petitions or motions with supporting affidavits and make the determination as to whether a substantial change in circumstances is set forth in the submission. If they determine it does not, they will dismiss the petition or motion. Parties may file for a de novo hearing with the assigned judge. If the verified petition or motion is not dismissed, the matter will be referred for mediation with FCS or set for a status conference in an attempt to resolve the issue(s) or define the contested issue(s). At a status conference, a determination may be made as to whether a GAL is required or whether mediation is appropriate. The matter may be scheduled for a contested hearing or for some other appropriate action. Mediation referrals are docketed by the commissioner center staff.

Judges who are directly contacted by the parties and choose not to route the motion through the commissioner center may evaluate post-judgment verified petitions or motions with supporting affidavits and make the determination as to whether a substantial change in circumstances is set forth in the submission. When they determine it does not, they will dismiss the petition or motion. If the verified petition or motion is not dismissed, the matter will be referred for mediation with FCS or set for a status conference. The referral to FCS is docketed by the branch staff.

When the FCS counselor receives a mediation referral, they or a member of the staff will email notice to the branch clerk. The clerk may do an administrative file review. A mediation-to-study referral will not be made automatically. A study will only be ordered if mediation has failed or has been waived.

Questions?

Please reach out to Dane County Family Court Services for more information.