Southern California Family Mediation


 Breaking the cycle of conflict through mediation, communication and problem solving 

Ask your attorney or social worker to schedule a mediation.

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Southern California Family Mediation provides and administers mediation services at the Edmund D. Edelman Children's Courthouse and the Alfred J. McCourtney Juvenile Justice Center.  Our team of volunteer mediators serves the parents and children of Los Angeles County.

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How we helped in 2018:

237 Mediations...


229 Agreements...


= 96.6% Families Reunited



Without mediation, our families have no chance to put together a co-parenting plan before leaving the Juvenile Justice System.  This increases the risk of children returning  to foster care. 

= Made Possible Thanks To Grants From =

The Pritzker Family Foundation


Foster Care Counts


= Additional Support Comes From =


What We Do

Help families solve problems


 Our Mediations assist with parenting plans, making tough decisions, rebuilding trust, and helping co-parents communicate peacefully & with respect.  The families decide what details are important to them and what their agreement will be. 

Keep families out of the juvenile justice system & kids out of foster care


 Mediation helps reduce recidivism, reunify families, and teaches skills to handle difficult and emotional situations. 

Get results


 We have been working hard and producing excellent results.  We have served over 1,000 parents and over 1,200 children since 2014.  Our elite team of mediators has consistently produced agreement rates in excess of 95%.

Train Mediators


 We have created a challenging professional volunteer training program.  We also partner with USC's, Gould School of Law to provide hands-on training and mediation oversight for law school students. 

What's the most difficult conversation you've had this year?

Conversations from the mediation room:

(All names were changed.)

 Bio-Father Jeff to Step-Father Gary

“Thank you so much for stepping in and being the father to my son that I couldn’t be. My son deserved better and you gave him better, I appreciate all you have done for him.”

 14 -Year-old Justine to Mother Maria (recovering from addiction)

“Mom I have been afraid to tell you this, because I love you and I don’t want to hurt your feelings.  I want to stay with you at least once a week, but I really love my new school and I just feel more stable living with Dad.” 

Why It's Important


  • 30,000 children who are victims of abuse and neglect are entrusted to the care of the Los Angeles County Juvenile Justice System.

  •  73% of foster youth spend two or more years in the system.

  • Mediation has been shown to shorten timelines for children under court supervision.

  • The Children's Court and Foster Care systems are being pushed beyond capacity by a constant flow of families returning to conflict.

  • Every time a child is uprooted from his or her support system and sent back to foster care,  their chances of graduating high school or going to college are reduced, and their likelihood of becoming incarcerated or homeless is increased.

Mediator's Tip

Make a request, instead of a complaint.  A complaint is accusatory and causes immediate defensiveness.  Mediators help people re-frame complaints into requests.  

For example, "You Always..." can bee seen a request for someone to do less of something.  Similarly, "You Never..." is really a request for someone to do more of something.

  • More about our families' successes and what tools and techniques our mediators use to help them:

Solving Problems


Rebuilding Trust


2019 SCFM Children's Court Mediation Training

If you are interested in joining the team to: 1. Help keep children out of foster care, 2. Reduce violence between co-parenting families, and 3. Promote social peace & justice, please contact us at:  

2019 SCFM Children's Court Mediation Training: If you are interested in joining our elite team of mediators, find out more by clicking "ABOUT THE TRAINING".

About the training

Co-parents learn to create their own Parenting Plan Agreements

Healing the heart of social conflict begins when co-parents learn better - more successful and less harmful - ways to communicate, negotiate, and agree for their children.

For many co-parents, creating their own agreement together can be one of the most transformational experiences of their lives.

An unprecedented 95% of our (communication & agreement-creation) workshop style mediations result in agreements by the co-parents.


Who We Are

Southern California Family Mediation keeps kids out of shelter care.

We recruit professional mediators and train them to help co-parents create their own visitation plans as they exit the L.A. County Children’s Court system, because without a comprehensive & lasting agreement to provide structure, family violence and recidivism too often become generational. 

  • We have supported permanency for over 1,200 children.
  • Because, every time a child is uprooted from his or her support system: home, family, school, and friends, their chances of graduating high school or going to college are reduced, and they are more likely to grow-up to be unemployed, homeless, or incarcerated.

>> We are not funded by the Court, and rely on private donations.


Our Amazing Volunteer Mediators

  • Our team of 30 specially-trained volunteer mediators, with decades of experience and stacks of advanced degrees, serve all 25 courtrooms at both L.A. County Children’s Courthouses.
  • 2 Co-mediators spend all day helping co-parents develop the communication and negotiation skills they need to create their own comprehensive Custody & Visitation Agreement, the same skills they need to co-parent peacefully for their children.
  •  In 2017, our volunteer mediators donated over 1,700 hours, valued at more than $340,000.     

What We do

The things People Say

Donna Bernstein, Attorney, L. A. Dependency Lawyers Inc. -

 “Southern California Family Mediation provides a sophisticated, equitable, meaningful agreement, the way a child’s visitation schedule should be. Because if they know what to do, it alleviates the stress and confusion, and makes for a much more peaceful coexistence. 

They are highly, highly recommended by a veteran Children’s Court attorney.”  

Dennis Smeal, Supervising Attorney, Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers Inc. -

 “Children’s Court cases end, but the consequences must be dealt with by the families everyday thereafter. Thanks to Southern California Family Mediation, exit orders of all kinds are being negotiated regularly, thoroughly, and with great compassion for the families involved.” 

Jennifer Bryan, Attorney, L. A. Dependency Lawyers Inc. -

 “Southern California Family Mediation has resolved my most difficult cases that I did not believe could be resolved without court intervention.” 

Parent -

 “It was very helpful for both parents, very clear and very smooth for fixing and finding an agreement. Thank you so much for your help.” 

Parent -

"I'm sorry I was so hard on you in the beginning.  I didn't understand at first what you were doing to help us.  I really just want you to understand how much you did for us.  Thank you so much.  I appreciate all you did to help us coparent better.  It's still going to be tough, but at least now we have a chance."

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Parent -

 “I appreciate that we were able to agree upon things to simplify a tough situation. Thank you for helping us compromise.”