Mediation and Family Court Services provides three primary services to the citizens of
La Crosse County: Mediation, Child Custody Evaluations, and Step-Parent Adoptions.
Mediation services are provided to separated, divorced and unmarried parents who are in
conflict concerning placement and legal custody issues in regard to their minor children.
Mediation is a cooperative process which allows parents to make their own plans and
decisions for the best interest of their minor children with the assistance of a neutral
third party, the mediator. In this process it is the parents who make the parenting
decisions not the mediator.
- Parents are either referred to mediation by an order from the Court (usually the Family
Court Commissioner) or parents may self refer. In order to be referred by the Court, a
legal filing for divorce, separation or a paternity action must have occurred in La Crosse
County. Once Mediation and Family Court Services has received the order for mediation, the
parents meet with a mediator for an initial mediation session. This session informs the
parents of different options of managing their conflict, one of which is mediation. At the
end of the initial mediation session, parents decide if they wish to mediate or not.
Mediation will only continue if both parents agree to proceed which preserves the right to
CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATIONS
- When parents remain in conflict and are unable to reach consensus regarding the
placement, legal custody or other issues pertinent to the best interest of their minor
children, one or both parents may petition the Family Court Commissioner to have a Child
Custody Evaluation by a Child Custody Assessment Team. If the Family Court Commissioner
orders a Child Custody Evaluation, a Child Custody Evaluator from Mediation and Family
Court Services works with two other professionals (an attorney to represent the
child(ren)s best interest, call a Guardian ad Litem and a mental health
professional, called a Child Development Specialist) over a 5 month period to investigate
and evaluate the family. At the end of this process, this team of professionals presents
to the parents their recommendations for placement and custody based on the best interest
of the minor child/children. A formal report is presented to the Family Court
Commissioner. Parents then may agree to accept the recommendations or they may choose to
go to trial with a Circuit Court Judge.
- The third service provided by Mediation and Family Court Services is Step- Parent
Adoption screenings. When a step parent wishes to legally adopt a step child, a
screening interview is conducted by this office. This will involve an in-office interview
with the family members and a public records check with the Wisconsin Department of
Justice and the county Human Services Department. A formal report is then prepared for the
Court as well as information for an amended birth certificate.