Nebraska Lawmakers See Results of Law They Passed in 2007 Requiring Mediation Attempt for Divorcing Families
Thursday, November, 5, 2015
Nebraska lawmakers passed a law in 2007 that required mediation attempts in divorcing families. The Parenting Act was intended to reduce the trauma children experience during custody battles and the results of a two year study concerning the law was recently released by the Nebraska Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the results of the study were mostly inconclusive.
According to the study conducted by the National Center for State Courts, there was no way to draw any conclusions about the Parenting Act and how it impacted the well-being of Nebraska children.
The co-chair of the study, Douglas County District Judge Gary Randall, stated that despite not reaching key conclusions, the study established a baseline for measuring how the court system does when it comes to meeting goals in child custody cases. It gives the courts a starting point and shows them where improvements could be made. Ultimately, the courts are doing what they should be doing, but there is room for improvement.
The study looked at about 300 cases prior to the law and 300 after the law went into effect, but many of the case files lacked the information needed to make comparisons.
Researchers also attempted to use surveys and focus groups, but most participants were unwilling to share information about their divorces and custody issues, and only a few responses were submitted from parents and none were given from children.
The law required parents who were unable to agree on custody to attend parenting education classes and either work out a parenting plan on their own or with the assistance of a mediator. Specially trained mediators were assigned to work with parents in cases where there were high levels of conflict or domestic violence. Only when mediation failed or parents refused to participate could the case be sent back to the courts.