Frequently Asked Questions - ODR

Frequently Asked Questions - ODR

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions.  If you cannot find the answer to your question on this page please contact ODR at nsc.mediation@nebraska.gov or by phone at 402-471-3148 (questions related to Parenting Act Mediation call 402-471-2911).

I recently participated in the mediation process and felt that the mediator acted unethically during the process; what can I do?

I recently participated in the mediation process and felt that the mediator acted unethically during the process; what can I do?
I recently participated in the mediation process and felt that the mediator acted unethically during the process; what can I do?

The Office of Dispute Resolution has implemented a process to address these issues, but there are different ethical guidelines for mediators based on the type of mediated case and mediator status.

These options regarding complaints against Parenting Act mediators can help a party to the mediation process discuss or report any lack of adherence to the Ethics which Parenting Act mediators are held. It is important as a party to a Parenting Act mediation to determine if the mediator is on the approved list as the Office of Dispute Resolution is unable to discipline those mediators who have not been approved. A good reminder for any party to a Parenting Act mediation session would be to ask your mediator, "Are you Approved through the Office of Dispute Resolution to mediate Parenting Act cases?“

For non-Parenting Act Mediation cases, the Office of Dispute Resolution only handles grievances regarding a mediator who is affiliated with an ODR-approved Mediation center. Complaints against a mediator may be filed directly to the affiliated center, or to the Office of Dispute Resolution.  Please contact the center to learn more about their complaint process. 

To file a complaint with ODR please complete the Mediator Grievance Form and submit the signed form to ODR.  After review by the Director, a written response to the complaint will be made within thirty days.  If the Director has determined a failure to comply with the Dispute Resolution Act or ODR policies, the center will be notified with a reasonable amount of time to demonstrate compliance.  In the event that a center does not comply within the set period of time, further remedies may be available.

If the mediator is not affiliated with a center and is not an approved Parenting Act mediator, then the Office of Dispute Resolution has no authority to address the complaint.

A teenager has stolen or vandalized my property, is there a way I can express the youth how this has affected me?

A teenager has stolen or vandalized my property, is there a way I can express the youth how this has affected me?
A teenager has stolen or vandalized my property, is there a way I can express the youth how this has affected me?

Those who have been the victim of a crime commited by a juvenile in the state of Nebraska can choose to take part in a Victim Youth Conference (VYC) in order to state their position in a safe and neutral environment.  A VYC is a dialogue between a youth, victim (or victim surrogate), family and other support persons who come together during a joint conference to discuss how the crime affected each of them.  The purpose of a VYC is to increase a youth's understanding of the implications of their decisions, and allows the victim an opprotunity to express their frustration, pain, or suffering which further solitifies a youth's understanding of the effects of their behavior.  

Mediation is a voluntary process.  Should a victim not wish to par-take in a VYC, the youth may still go through the process with the use of a victim-surrogate or a community member.   These individuals may not have been involved in the particular incident at the table, but they may have been a victim of a similar situation before or affected through the wider community as a whole.  Even though a victim is not required to participate, there are many benefits to attending the dialogue:

  • The VYC may be the first and/or only opprotunity for a victim to safely face the youth offender.
  • The victim can voice their opinion on reparations they would like to see, such as a formal appology.
  • Attending the dialogue can ease the closure process by recognizing the youth as a person who has made a mistake and is attempting to make it right.

 The Juvenile Victim Offender Conferencing Pilot Program: A Year in Review prepared by Jennifer Blevins in 2016 states:

  • "70 juveniles receiving VOC services through mediation centers.
  • 93% of completed VOC’s resulted in a reparations agreement for the juvenile to make amends.
  • 85% of reparations agreements were successfully fulfilled by juveniles and 5% were in process.
  • 81% of juveniles and 89% of victims reported feeling the criminal justice system was more responsive to their needs with VOC.
  • A full 100% of victims and 97% of juveniles and their parents would recommend participating in VOC to others in similar situations."

It is important to recognize all situations are different, but the goal of mediation is for disagreeing parties to come together and develop a mutually beneficial agreement.  If you are interested in partaking in a Victim Youth Conference please contact your regional mediation center for more information.  If you are interested in learning more about Victim Youth Conferences and Restorative Justice as handled by ODR, please visit the Restorative Justice page.  

Questions About Parenting Act Mediators

What is a Parenting Act mediator?

What is a Parenting Act mediator?
What is a Parenting Act mediator?

Mediation means a method of non-judicial intervention in which a trained, neutral third-party with no decision-making authority provides a structured process in which individuals and families in conflict work through parenting and other related family issues with the goal of achieving a voluntary, mutually agreeable parenting plan or related resolution. This trained, neutral third-party is a "Parenting Act mediator."

A Parenting Act mediator must meet the qualifications of section 43-2938 and acting in accordance with the Parenting Act.

Mediators involved in proceedings under the Parenting Act shall participate in training approved by the State Court Administrator to recognize child abuse or neglect, domestic intimate partner abuse, and unresolved parental conflict and its potential impact upon children and families.

The State Court Administrator's office, in collaboration with professionals in the fields of domestic abuse services, child and family services, mediation, and law, shall develop and approve curricula for the training as well as develop and approve rules, procedures, and forms for training and screening for child abuse or neglect, domestic intimate partner abuse, and unresolved parental conflict.

How can I become a Parenting Act mediator?

How can I become a Parenting Act mediator?
How can I become a Parenting Act mediator?

A mediator under the Parenting Act may be a court conciliation program counselor, a court conciliation program mediator, an approved mediation center affiliated mediator, or a mediator in private practice.

Individuals interested in becoming an approved Parenting Act mediator must meet the training and apprenticeship requirements and complete an online application before being considered for approval.  

See the Parenting Act Mediator Information Page for more information.

I am an attorney who occasionally mediates cases which include parenting plans; do I need to seek approval as a Parenting Act mediator?

I am an attorney who occasionally mediates cases which include parenting plans; do I need to seek approval as a Parenting Act mediator?
I am an attorney who occasionally mediates cases which include parenting plans; do I need to seek approval as a Parenting Act mediator?

One can find the needed qualification for a mediator who practices as a Parenting Act mediator in Nebraska Parenting Act. While there has been much discussion surrounding the issue, the Nebraska Lawyer's Advisory Committee rendered an opinion in 2013 that can help to provide more insight and clarification on the issue.

What happens if I do not complete the Parenting Act mediator approval application?

What happens if I do not complete the Parenting Act mediator approval application?
What happens if I do not complete the Parenting Act mediator approval application?

Parenting Act mediators must complete the Parenting Act mediator approval application in order to receive case referrals from the court. ODR accepts applications on an on-going basis and thus will review them as they come in. ODR will take up to 30 days to review a completed application.

Once approved a mediator's name and information will be added to the List of Approved Parenting Act Mediators on our website.

What information about Parenting Act mediators will be made available to the public?

What information about Parenting Act mediators will be made available to the public?
What information about Parenting Act mediators will be made available to the public?

The following information about each approved Parenting Act mediator will be available to those who would reasonably have need of it:

  • Name
  • Affiliation/Private Practice
  • County of Practice
  • City or Town
  • Judicial Court District
  • Biography (if one is provided by the mediator)

View the Approved Parenting Act Mediator List for examples of what information will be shared.

I am an out-of-state mediator but would like to apply for approval as a Nebraska Parenting Act mediator; what do I need to know?

I am an out-of-state mediator but would like to apply for approval as a Nebraska Parenting Act mediator; what do I need to know?
I am an out-of-state mediator but would like to apply for approval as a Nebraska Parenting Act mediator; what do I need to know?

We welcome ALL mediators to apply for approval as Nebraska Parenting Act mediators! Of course, every state has different legislation and policies for mediators and Nebraska is no different. The Nebraska Parenting Act is the best place to start to learn about family mediation in Nebraska. In order to learn of the specific requirements to meet before gaining approval from the Office of Dispute Resolution, read the Policy for Approval of Parenting Act Mediators. This policy details the type of training and mediation history that is expected of Parenting Act mediators if they are to gain approval. Also, if you have taken mediation training from another organization I would like to know if ODR would approve it, the Policy will also explain the necessary requirements for your training to meet standards of Nebraska equivalency.  If you believe your training meets the equivalency requirements, submit to ODR corresponding equivalency request form(s):

BMT Equivalency Request Form
FMT Equivalency Request Form
SADR Equivalency Request Form

Additional training may be required to ensure you are fully knowledgeable on Parenting Act mediation in Nebraska.  

Questions About Trainings

Where can I go for Continuing Mediator Education Opportunities?

Where can I go for Continuing Mediator Education Opportunities?
Where can I go for Continuing Mediator Education Opportunities?

For information about continuing mediator education opportunities, you can visit the Nebraska Mediation Association website, contact a local mediation center, or check the Judicial Branch calendar. 

You may also check the approved training list on the mediator portal or contact the ODR Program Analyst for upcoming pre-approved training.  The Program Analyst can be reached at 402-471-2911 or at nsc.mediation@nebraska.org

Where can I go for Basic and Family Mediation Trainings?

Where can I go for Basic and Family Mediation Trainings?
Where can I go for Basic and Family Mediation Trainings?

For information about how to register for Basic or Family Mediation Training, visit the Nebraska Mediation Association webpage.

Do I need to retake mediation training if I completed mediation training a while back and have not been actively mediating since the training?

Do I need to retake mediation training if I completed mediation training a while back and have not been actively mediating since the training?
Do I need to retake mediation training if I completed mediation training a while back and have not been actively mediating since the training?

The State Court Administrator’s Policy for Approval of Parenting Act Mediators provides helpful guidance.

Section II, A, 1 of the Policy discusses the required training: “To be eligible for approval as a Parenting Act mediator, a person shall have successfully completed Basic Mediation Training and Family Mediation Training, approved by ODR.”

The policy continues to discuss the other factors that affect the approval of an application. Section II, A, 4 of the Policy states: “To ensure that applicants for approval as Parenting Act mediators are well qualified, those individuals who have successfully completed approved required trainings may need to retake the trainings, or make other accommodations as determined by ODR, in order to be eligible for approval as a Parenting Act mediator if the training is more than five years old and the mediator is not current in continuing mediator education or has not been actively mediating. Other accommodations may include successful completion of continuing mediator education, apprenticing in parenting plan cases with supervisory mediators, or other relevant actions.”

The training itself and recency of mediation trainings are just two of the essential elements of the application process to become a Parenting Act mediator. It would be helpful to review the entire approval application to have a full understanding of what is considered for approval. 

What topics are covered in Basic Mediation Training, Family Mediation Training and SADR Training?

What topics are covered in Basic Mediation Training, Family Mediation Training and SADR Training?
What topics are covered in Basic Mediation Training, Family Mediation Training and SADR Training?

To qualify as a Parenting Act mediator, a person shall have basic mediation training and family mediation training, approved by the Office of Dispute Resolution, and shall have served as an apprentice to a mediator as defined in section 25-2903. The training shall include, but not be limited to:

  • Knowledge of the court system and procedures used in contested family matters;
  • General knowledge of family law, especially regarding custody, parenting time, visitation, and other access, and support, including calculation of child support using the child support guidelines pursuant to section 42-364.16;
  • Knowledge of other resources in the state to which parties and children can be referred for assistance;
  • General knowledge of child development, the potential effects of dissolution or parental separation upon children, parents, and extended families, and the psychology of families;
  • Knowledge of child abuse or neglect and domestic intimate partner abuse and their potential impact upon the safety of family members, including knowledge of provisions for safety, transition plans, domestic intimate partner abuse screening protocols, and mediation safety measures; and
  • Knowledge in regard to the potential effects of domestic violence on a child; the nature and extent of domestic intimate partner abuse; the social and family dynamics of domestic intimate partner abuse; techniques for identifying and assisting families affected by domestic intimate partner abuse; interviewing, documentation of, and appropriate recommendations for families affected by domestic intimate partner abuse; and availability of community and legal domestic violence resources.

To qualify as an approved specialized mediator for parents involved in high conflict and situations in which abuse is present, the mediator shall apply to an approved mediation center or court conciliation program for consideration to be listed as an approved specialized mediator. The approved mediation center or court conciliation program shall submit its list of approved specialized mediators to the Office of Dispute Resolution on an annual basis. Minimum requirements to be listed as an approved specialized mediator include:

  • Affiliation with a court conciliation program or an approved mediation center;
  • Meeting the minimum standards for a Parenting Act mediator under this section;
  • Meeting additional relevant standards and qualifications as determined by the State Court Administrator; and
  • Satisfactorily completing an additional minimum twenty-four-hour specialized alternative dispute resolution domestic mediation training course developed by entities providing domestic abuse services and mediation services for children and families and approved by the State Court Administrator. This course shall include advanced education in regard to the potential effects of domestic violence on the child; the nature and extent of domestic intimate partner abuse; the social and family dynamics of domestic intimate partner abuse; techniques for identifying and assisting families affected by domestic intimate partner abuse; and appropriate and safe mediation strategies to assist parties in developing a parenting plan, provisions for safety, and a transition plan, as necessary and relevant.

I have completed a Basic Mediation Training and/or Family Mediation Training that is not pre-approved by ODR; will it count towards Parenting Act mediator training requirements?

I have completed a Basic Mediation Training and/or Family Mediation Training that is not pre-approved by ODR; will it count towards Parenting Act mediator training requirements?
I have completed a Basic Mediation Training and/or Family Mediation Training that is not pre-approved by ODR; will it count towards Parenting Act mediator training requirements?

ODR may determine that mediators who have not taken an ODR-approved training have received the equivalent of the ODR approved training. Such mediators shall submit to ODR an equivalency request form for ODR to determine whether the training received is in substantial conformity with approved trainings.

ODR may require the mediator to take parts of an ODR-approved training or make other accommodations if that aspect of the training was not part of the training that the mediator had taken. (Policy of Approval of Parenting Act Mediators, Section II, Part IA)