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Rule 32: Mediation

(A) When Ordered. The Court, upon its own motion or upon motion of either or both parties, may order both parties to participate in mediation at any time after service of summons in any action for divorce, legal separation or annulment, in which the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities and/or parenting time of the child(ren) is at issue, or at any time after the filing of a post decree motion to modify the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities and/or parenting time of the minor child(ren), This issue shall be addressed on the first occasion the case is considered by the Judge or Magistrate. Parties who have agreed to use the services of an outside mediator shall prepare and submit an order designating the mediator and allocating the responsibility for payment of the selected individual. In the absence of such an order, an order for mediation shall refer the parties to the Court’s Mediation Services.

(B) Scope. Only issues regarding the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities and parenting time of the minor child(ren) may be mediated under this local rule. No financial matter, including support, shall be the subject of mediation. Further, the Court shall not permit the use of mediation in any of the following situations: 

    (1) As an alternative to the prosecution or adjudication of domestic violence; 
    (2) In determining whether to grant, modify, or terminate a protection order; 
    (3) In determining the terms and conditions of a protection order; and 
    (4) In determining the penalty for violation of a protection order.

(C) Procedure. If it is determined that mediation is appropriate, the Court shall ensure that both parties are permitted to participate in the mediation process with a mediator who meets the qualifications set forth in this rule. Existing Court orders are not stayed or suspended during the mediation process. Mediation shall commence within fourteen (14) days of the date of the order referring the parties to mediation.

The parties shall be advised that either can withdraw from the mediation process at any time without fear that terminating the process will adversely affect his or her standing before the Court. Within 45 days of the date of the order referring the parties to mediation or upon the termination of mediation, whichever occurs first, the mediator shall file a mediation report. Any agreement reached during mediation shall not be binding upon the parties until approved by the Court, who shall consider the best interests of the child(ren) when allocating parental rights and responsibilities and establishing a parenting time schedule.

(D) Qualifications. Mediators shall meet the qualifications in Rule 16 of the Ohio Rules of Superintendence. 

(E) Confidentiality. Neither the statements made during the course of the mediation screening nor mediation sessions nor the notes of either the mediator or individual conducting the screening shall be discoverable or admissible as evidence in any subsequent proceeding in this Court. This rule does not require the exclusion of any evidence that is otherwise discoverable, merely because it is disclosed in the course of an assessment or during mediation. Further, this rule shall not preclude the mediator from testifying as to a crime committed in his or her presence or from complying with any law requiring the reporting of child abuse. 

(Effective May 1, 1992.  Amended effective October 1, 2010.)

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