Family Mediation

Mediation Program

The Program's purpose is to serve and support parents who are involved in legal custody and physical placement disputes to assist them in reaching mutually acceptable agreements. We seek to improve the lives of these parents and their children through the use of trained professional mediators who facilitate communication between parents and empower parents to come to a resolution which is satisfactory for both parties. We strive to help parents move beyond their present disagreements and focus on their children and their children's futures.

Mediation services are available during and after the divorce process or paternity action to assist parents in resolving disputes pertaining to legal custody, physical placement (visitation of their minor children), and other parenting issues.

Wisconsin law requires that all disputes related to legal custody and physical placement of children must be referred to mediation from Family Court Services.  The court may waive this requirement if there is an undue hardship or the health or safety of a parent would be at risk.  Family Court Services mediators do not mediate issues relating to property division, maintenance, child support or other financial matters.

Participation may be ordered in one of three ways:
*  An attorney makes a verbal request in a court hearing or by filing a Request for Mediation form.  The Judge or Commissioner reviews the request and signs an Order if s/he agrees.
*  A parent makes a verbal request in a hearing or by filing the Request for Mediation form.  The Judge or Commissioner reviews the request and signs an Order if s/he agrees.
* A Judge or Commissioner may decide to order mediation because s/he determines that it may be helpful to resolving a case, without a request from a parent or attorney being made.

The fee for mediation is $300 which is to be paid either when the Request is filed with the clerk of courts or as ordered by the court.  The court determines which party will pay which portion of the fee, either before payment is made or at a later hearing.  If not ordered by the court, each party is generally required to pay half of the fee in pending divorce/legal separation actions.  In all other cases, the requesting party is generally required to remit the deposit.  If a party is unable to remit the entire amount, the clerk of courts offers a payment plan; please call the Accounting Division of the Clerk of Courts at (262)335-4869.

After the Request is made, mediation is ordered and the fee is paid, the parties are required to attend a group orientation session. A letter is sent notifying the party of the date.  Upon completion of this orientation by both parties, a mediator is assigned and a letter is sent to the parties with the mediator's contact information.  One or more private mediation sessions are then scheduled and held.  If mediation is successful, a Parenting Agreement is drafted, signed and filed with the court by the mediator.  If mediation is not successful in reaching an agreement, the mediator will advise the court that mediation was not successful.  If a Parenting Agreement is reached, a Stipulation and Order must also be filed with the Parenting Agreement for the court's signature to make the Agreement an enforceable court Order.   These two links will provide you with more detailed information about the process.  Flow Chart Checklist Stipulation and Order  For your review, this is the presentation that you will see at Orientation:  Orientation 

Washington County also offers a Family Law Assistance Center every Tuesday at the Justice Center from 12:00 p.m.noon until 1:00 p.m. 


Call the Family/Senior Court Assistant at (262)335-4838 for more information.

The websites listed below offer separated, divorced and unmarried parents further resources, forms and information:

Up To Parent

Family Court Services Reading Resource List