§48-9-202. Court-ordered services.

(a)(1) The court shall inform the parents, or require them to be informed, about:

(A) How to prepare a parenting plan;

(B) The impact of family dissolution on children and how the needs of children facing family dissolution can best be addressed;

(C) The impact of domestic abuse on children and resources for addressing domestic abuse; and

(D) Mediation or other nonjudicial procedures designed to help them achieve an agreement.

(2) The court shall require the parents to attend parent education classes.

(3) If parents are unable to resolve issues and agree to a parenting plan, the court shall require mediation unless application of the procedural rules promulgated pursuant to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section indicates that mediation is inappropriate in the particular case.

(b) The Supreme Court of Appeals shall make and promulgate rules that will provide for premediation screening procedures to determine whether domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, acts or threats of duress or coercion, substance abuse, mental illness or other such elements would adversely affect the safety of a party, the ability of a party to meaningfully participate in the mediation or the capacity of a party to freely and voluntarily consent to any proposed agreement reached as a result of the mediation. Such rules shall authorize a family court judge to consider alternatives to mediation which may aid the parties in establishing a parenting plan. Such rules shall not establish a per se bar to mediation if domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, acts or threats of duress or coercion, substance abuse, mental illness or other such elements exist, but may be the basis for the court, in its discretion, not to order services under subsection (a) of this section or not to require a parent to have face-to-face meetings with the other parent.

(c) A mediator shall not make a recommendation to the court and may not reveal information that either parent has disclosed during mediation under a reasonable expectation of confidentiality, except that a mediator may reveal to the court credible information that he or she has received concerning domestic violence or child abuse.

(d) Mediation services authorized under subsection (a) of this section shall be ordered at an hourly cost that is reasonable in light of the financial circumstances of each parent, assessed on a uniform sliding scale. Where one parent's ability to pay for such services is significantly greater than the other, the court may order that parent to pay some or all of the expenses of the other. State revenues shall not be used to defray the costs for the services of a mediator: Provided, That the Supreme Court of Appeals may use a portion of its budget to pay administrative costs associated with establishing and operating mediation programs: Provided, however, That grants and gifts to the state that may be used to fund mediation are not to be considered as state revenues for purposes of this subsection.

(e) The Supreme Court of Appeals shall establish standards for the qualification and training of mediators.