Nebraska Revised Statute 43-2939

Chapter 43 Section 2939

43-2939.

Parenting Act mediator; duties; conflict of interest; report of child abuse or neglect; termination of mediation.

(1) A Parenting Act mediator, prior to meeting with the parties in an initial mediation session, shall provide an individual initial screening session with each party to assess the presence of child abuse or neglect, unresolved parental conflict, domestic intimate partner abuse, other forms of intimidation or coercion, or a party's inability to negotiate freely and make informed decisions. If any of these conditions exist, the mediator shall not proceed with the mediation session but shall proceed with a specialized alternative dispute resolution process that addresses safety measures for the parties, if the mediator is on the approved specialized list of an approved mediation center or court conciliation program, or shall refer the parties to a mediator who is so qualified. When public records such as current or expired protection orders, criminal domestic violence cases, and child abuse or neglect proceedings are provided to a mediator, such records shall be considered during the individual initial screening session to determine appropriate dispute resolution methods. The mediator has the duty to determine whether to proceed in joint session, individual sessions, or caucus meetings with the parties in order to address safety and freedom to negotiate. In any mediation or specialized alternative dispute resolution, a mediator has the ongoing duty to assess appropriateness of the process and safety of the process upon the parties.

(2) No mediator who represents or has represented one or both of the parties or has had either of the parties as a client as an attorney or a counselor shall mediate the case, unless such services have been provided to both participants and mediation shall not proceed in such cases unless the prior relationship has been disclosed, the role of the mediator has been made distinct from the earlier relationship, and the participants have been given the opportunity to fully choose to proceed. All other potential conflicts of interest shall be disclosed and discussed before the parties decide whether to proceed with that mediator.

(3) No mediator who is also a licensed attorney may, after completion of the mediation process, represent either party in the role of attorney in the same matter through subsequent legal proceedings.

(4) The mediator shall facilitate the mediation process. Prior to the commencement of mediation, the mediator shall notify the parties that, if the mediator has reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse or neglect or if the mediator observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances which reasonably would result in child abuse or neglect, the mediator is obligated under section 28-711 to report such information to the authorized child abuse and neglect reporting agency and shall report such information unless the information has been previously reported. The mediator shall have access to court files for purposes of mediation under the Parenting Act. The mediator shall be impartial and shall use his or her best efforts to effect an agreement or parenting plan as required under the act. The mediator may interview the child if, in the mediator's opinion, such an interview is necessary or appropriate. The parties shall not bring the child to any sessions with the mediator unless specific arrangements have been made with the mediator in advance of the session. The mediator shall assist the parties in assessing their needs and the best interests of the child involved in the proceeding and may include other persons in the mediation process as necessary or appropriate. The mediator shall advise the parties that they should consult with an attorney.

(5) The mediator may terminate mediation if one or more of the following conditions exist:

(a) There is no reasonable possibility that mediation will promote the development of an effective parenting plan;

(b) Allegations are made of direct physical or significant emotional harm to a party or to a child that have not been heard and ruled upon by the court; or

(c) Mediation will otherwise fail to serve the best interests of the child.

(6) Until July 1, 2010, either party may terminate mediation at any point in the process. On and after July 1, 2010, a party may not terminate mediation until after an individual initial screening session and one mediation or specialized alternative dispute resolution session are held. The session after the individual initial screening session shall be an individual specialized alternative dispute resolution session if the screening indicated the existence of any condition specified in subsection (1) of this section.