The mediator will explain the mediation process to you at the first orientation session. Mediation provides the parties with an opportunity to resolve the dispute and to work out the custody and visitation schedule with the help of a court certified mediator. No attorneys are present. Anything said in mediation is considered negotiation and is not admissible in Court. The goal of mediation is to try to get cases resolved amicably without having to go to a full Court Hearing.
If during mediation you are able to reach an agreement, the mediator will prepare the agreement and have all parties sign it. Depending on the county, the mediator will either give this agreement to the judge for his/her signature or if the parties are represented, to their attorneys. Once approved, the agreement will go to a judge for his/her signature and the agreement becomes an order of the court. No hearing would be required.
You should have a plan for custody and visitation. Try to be reasonable. If you want primary custody you should have an idea of how much time the other party should have with the children. Think of what can work for both of you. be prepared to propose visitation during holidays and school breaks.
You do not have to come to an agreement in mediation. If what the opposing party suggests is completely unreasonable, unworkable, and/or you just do not feel comfortable with it, you can chose not to sign an agreement. In that instance, the mediator will notify the Court that the case did not settle, freeing it up for a hearing.