Effective September 1, 2021, the Court may require the parties in any case where child custody or visitation is contested to participate, in good faith, in two (2) hours of mediation before a case will be set for trial. The mediation may be performed by a mediator chosen by the parties, a qualified mediator on the list to be maintained by the Court selected by the Judge in the event the parties are unable to agree, or Domestic Relations Services.
Where a mediator is chosen by the parties or selected by the judge, the parties will be responsible for paying the costs of the mediation and the mediation process shall remain confidential and not reported to the Judge. An organization called Confluence may be able to provide mediation services on a sliding scale in limited circumstances. Those services will likewise remain confidential and not be reported to the judge.
Where the parties choose to do mediation with Domestic Relations Services, the mediation is free, but the mediator can participate in the court process, including settlement conferences and trial. Domestic Relations Services will assist the parents in resolving only custody and not support issues.
There is no requirement to do mandatory mediation if the parties have both signed and submitted to the court a signed and completed Part A of the Parenting Plan (all provisions relating to parenting time (custody and visitation) and legal custody (decision making). Part B of the Parenting Plan, which covers the obligation of the parents to financially support the child, need not be resolved in order to satisfy this Rule.
A request to be exempted from mandatory mediation may be made for good cause, including but not limited to domestic violence.
The rule is Rule 68.14 of the Local Rules of the St. Louis County Circuit Court.