The Jefferson Family Court's custody mediation service was developed as part of a larger program creating the first family court system in Kentucky. The mediation service's connection with the Family Court has influenced both practical and policy aspects of its development. Any description of the mediation project necessarily entails some description of the court system that created it.
This Article describes the structure of the Jefferson Family Court and the custody mediation process as it has developed in Jefferson County. A review of one community's approach to custody mediation may be useful not only as a blueprint for a system's structure, but as a vehicle for suggesting a number of issues that any community interested in custody mediation should address as it develops its own program. This Article comments on process and outcome goals for courts using mediation programs to resolve custody disputes. In a program as new as the Jefferson Family Court there is as yet insufficient data for statistical evaluation of custody mediation outcomes, but it is possible to address some of the mediation project's goals. This Article also explores the relationship between the creation of family courts and the adoption of alternative dispute resolution systems. Although the process and goals described here should not be considered the only valid models for the development of a community custody mediation project, the description of one group's progress may assist others aspiring to establish similar systems.
Part I of this Article describes the Jefferson Family Court Pilot Project and the Family Court's Local Rule 612, which governs custody mediation. Part II analyzes specific issues addressed in developing the mediation project and some concerns related to program evaluation.
Louise Everett Graham, Implementing Custody Mediation in Family Court: Some Comments on the Jefferson County Family Court Experience, 81 Ky. L.J. 1107 (1993).