43-2937. Court referral to mediation or specialized alternative dispute resolution; temporary relief; specialized alternative dispute resolution rule; approval; mandatory court order; when; waiver.

(1) In addition to those cases that are mandatorily referred to mediation or specialized alternative dispute resolution under subsection (3) of this section, a court may, at any time in the proceedings upon its own motion or upon the motion of either party, refer a case to mediation or specialized alternative dispute resolution in order to attempt resolution of any relevant matter. The court may state a date for the case to return to court, and the court shall not grant an extension of such date except for cause. If the court refers a case to mediation or specialized alternative dispute resolution, the court may, if appropriate, order temporary relief, including necessary support and provision for payment of mediation costs. Court referral shall be to a mediator agreed to by the parties and approved by the court, an approved mediation center, or a court conciliation program. The State Court Administrator's office shall develop a process to approve mediators under the Parenting Act.

(2) Prior to July 1, 2010, if there are allegations of domestic intimate partner abuse or unresolved parental conflict between the parties in any proceeding, mediation shall not be required pursuant to the Parenting Act or by local court rule, unless the court has established a specialized alternative dispute resolution rule approved by the State Court Administrator. The specialized alternative dispute resolution process shall include a method for court consideration of precluding or disqualifying parties from participating; provide an opportunity to educate both parties about the process; require informed consent from both parties in order to proceed; provide safety protocols, including separate individual sessions for each participant, informing each party about the process, and obtaining informed consent from each party to continue the process; allow support persons to attend sessions; and establish opt-out-for-cause provisions. On and after July 1, 2010, all trial courts shall have a mediation and specialized alternative dispute resolution rule in accordance with the act.

(3) Except as provided in subsection (4) of this section, for cases filed on or after July 1, 2010, all parties who have not submitted a parenting plan to the court within the time specified by the court shall be ordered to participate in mediation or specialized alternative dispute resolution with a mediator, a court conciliation program, or an approved mediation center as provided in section 43-2939.

(4) For good cause shown and (a) when both parents agree and such parental agreement is bona fide and not asserted to avoid the purposes of the Parenting Act, or (b) when mediation or specialized alternative dispute resolution is not possible without undue delay or hardship to either parent, the mediation or specialized alternative dispute resolution requirement may be waived by the court. In such a case where waiver of the mediation or specialized alternative dispute resolution is sought, the court shall hold an evidentiary hearing and the burden of proof for the party or parties seeking waiver is by clear and convincing evidence.

Source:Laws 2007, LB554, § 18; Laws 2008, LB1014, § 65; Laws 2010, LB901, § 3.