Scope of Rule.
This Rule applies to any case under this Chapter in which the custody of or visitation with a minor child is an issue, including an initial action to determine custody or visitation, an action to modify an existing order or judgment as to custody or visitation, and a petition for contempt by reason of non-compliance with an order or judgment governing custody or visitation.
Duty of court.
- Promptly after an action subject to this Rule is at issue, the court shall determine whether:
- mediation of the dispute as to custody or visitation is appropriate and would likely be beneficial to the parties or the child; and
- a properly qualified mediator is available to mediate the dispute.
- If a party or a child represents to the court in good faith that there is a genuine issue of physical or sexual abuse of the party or child, and that, as a result, mediation would be inappropriate, the court shall not order mediation.
- If the court concludes that mediation is appropriate and feasible, it shall enter an order requiring the parties to mediate the custody or visitation dispute. The order may stay some or all further proceedings in the action pending the mediation on terms and conditions set forth in the order.Cross-References. — With respect to subsection b (2) of this Rule, see Rule 1-341 and Rules 3.1 and 3.3 of the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct.
Scope of mediation.
- The court’s initial order may not require the parties to attend more than two mediation sessions. For good cause shown and upon the recommendation of the mediator, the court may order up to two additional mediation sessions. The parties may agree to further mediation.
- Mediation under this Rule shall be limited to the issues of custody and visitation unless the parties agree otherwise in writing.
If the parties agree on some or all of the disputed issues, the mediator may assist the parties in making a record of the points of agreement. The mediator shall provide copies of any memorandum of points of agreement to the parties and their attorneys for review and signature. If the memorandum is signed by the parties as submitted or as modified by the parties, a copy of the signed memorandum shall be sent to the mediator, who shall submit it to the court.
Committee note. — It is permissible for a mediator to make a brief record of points of agreement reached by the parties during the mediation and assist the parties in articulating those points in the form of a written memorandum, so that they are clear and accurately reflect the agreements reached. Mediators should act only as scribes recording the parties’ points of agreement, and not as drafters creating legal memoranda.
If no agreement.
If no agreement is reached or the mediator determines that mediation is inappropriate, the mediator shall so advise the court but shall not state the reasons. If the court does not order mediation or the case is returned to the court after mediation without an agreement as to all issues in the case, the court promptly shall schedule the case for hearing on any pendente lite or other appropriate relief not covered by a mediation agreement.
Confidentiality of mediation communications under this Rule is governed by Rule 17-109.
Cross-References. — For the definition of “mediation communication,” see Rule 17-102 (e).
Payment of the compensation, fees, and costs of a mediator may be compelled by order of court and assessed among the parties as the court may direct. In the order for mediation, the court may waive payment of the compensation, fees, and costs.
Cross-References. — For the qualifications and selection of mediators, see Rule 17-104.