History of 'SoCal' Family Mediation

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2014

August - Following devastating budget cuts, which forced the closure of 48 courthouses and eliminated the California Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Children's Court’s Mediation program, and faced with devastating recidivism, (then Referee) Marilyn Mordetzky took it upon herself to establish a new dependency mediation program. 


In October of 2014, Mediators Randy Drew and Stacey Lisk were recruited by  Commissioner Mordetzky.  When we began, we were only mediating Exit Orders. These are Parenting Plans for co-parents. More detailed and lasting Exit Orders are important, because they help reduce conflict between co-parents, which provides more peaceful, stable lives for children, and keeps them out of foster care.  Better agreements keep parents & children from returning to the juvenile justice system.

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2015

2015 Was our first full year; and the three of us mediated about 100 cases, before Commissioner Mordetzky returned to the bench full-time. 


As the first ever court-connected mediation program created by mediators, every system was deigned to maximize benefits and results.  It became clear that every child and every co-parent could benefit from the creation of their own detailed, self-designed parenting plan.  Our goals called for bold innovations.  


Our close relationship with the courts allowed us to invent the ‘stipulated co-parenting agreement’. Prior to the stipulated co-parenting plan, parents often needed to miss additional days of work, and the kids missed additional school days in order to properly close their cases.


A Supervising Attorney for the Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers remarked, “In all my years as a dependency lawyer, I have never seen that before." 

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2016

  •  2106 -  We mediated for 238 coparents & guardians, and helped 228 of them create agreements (95.8%). 
  • January - Commissioner Mordetzky and Lisa Klerman established our USC partnership, whereby qualifying law school students studying with Professor Mordetzky co-mediate with Senior Volunteer Mediators.
  • March - We became ‘Southern California Family Mediation’, a California corporation.  
  • Midyear - We established SCFM’s online presence, and launched our self-service, online appointment-booking system for the courtrooms and attorneys.
  • October - We opened up the program to additional volunteer mediators.  Our inaugural class of Mediators, Marvin Whistler, Victoria Gray, Maria Brinson-Sampson, Alik Segal, and Leyla Balakhane, completed 55 hours of combined classroom and practical training. 
  • November - Foster Care Counts became our pro-bono fiscal sponsor, meaning they pass 100% of all donation through to us (with no administration fees), and provide a Donor Acknowledgement for the donor’s tax records. 

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2017

  • In 2017, SoCal’s elite team of seven mediators served 342 coparents & guardians, and helped 326 of them create agreements (95.3%). 
  • January / April - Our second year partnering with USC, where students co-mediate with  volunteer mediators.
  • We began mediating ‘Open Cases’ for when coparents are not yet exiting the dependency system but need help creating a temporary parenting plan. 
  • We also added Contested Adoptions to our service offerings. Contested Adoption mediations are both technically and emotionally challenging, sometimes taking two or more days to resolve. We mediated 12 contested adoptions, and achieved 12 agreements.
  • October / December - 11 new Volunteer Mediators, Lynette Kim, Aaron Larks Stanford, Candace Jones, Essie Martinkovsky, Jean Kling, Leslie Kushner, Milan Slama, Nellie Tillman, Pam Perry, Sarah English, and Ted Andrews completed the 2nd annual Child Dependency Mediation Training, 72 hours.  Congratulations and welcome!
  • November - We began conducting ‘front end’ mediations, and the “Mediated Settlement Conference” was born. These are mediations, between co-parents, or between parents and L. A. County & social workers. For the first time, conflict specialists have opportunities to mediate a parent’s journey through the juvenile justice system from beginning to end.

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2018

  • SoCal’s elite team has grown to 30 Volunteer Mediators.
  • January / April – The USC partnership is going strong.
  • Four Mediators from our inaugural class were promoted to Supervising Mediators. Congratulations and Thank You to Supervising Mediators: Marvin Whistler, Alik Segal, Leyla Balakhane, and Maria Brinson-Sampson. 
  • Victoria Gray has joined Ken Cloke, Lisa Klerman, and Jack Goetz on our esteemed Advisory Board.
  • We are now serving all 25 Los Angeles County Dependency courtrooms, at both the Edmund D. Edelman Children's Courthouse in Monterey Park, and the Alfred J. McCourtney Juvenile Justice Center in the Antelope Valley.
  • Our federal nonprofit application was filed and we are waiting. 
  • This was our first year to receive grants and donations totaling over $35,000.